North Carolina’s Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences and Ascletis Inc., a U.S.-China pharmaceutical company, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to support the first large-scale joint venture in biotechnology between North Carolina and China’s Zhejian Province. Government officials also signed an MOU promoting economic growth, business development and trade, during the signing event. Ascletis has reportedly completed raising $100 million in Series A financing in 2011, which included a first tranche of $50 million.

According to press releases issued by both parties, Ascletis will establish its U.S. research and development center on Hamner’s 56-acre campus in Research Triangle Park, while maintaining other operations in Zhejian. The company, which is working on new treatments for cancer and infectious diseases, will license the rights to late-stage experimental and commercial drugs for China.

“Being familiar with both the needs of the growing Chinese middle class and the promising drug candidates available for treatments in the United States, I knew that Ascletis needed a presence in both countries to succeed,” Ascletis President and CEO Jinzi Wu was quoted as saying. “My goal is to ensure that Ascletis develops drugs that show potential for treating cancer, tuberculosis and other diseases into late-stage clinical trials and eventually out on the market to benefit society as a whole.” See Hamner and Ascletis Press Releases, July 20, 2011; AsianScientist, July 24, 2011.