Bristol-Myers Squibb has linked up with China's Tsinghua University to fund research looking at identifying new targets in oncology and immunoscience.

The multi-year strategic partnership will also focus on "the science of mapping the 3D protein structure of biological molecular targets that could serve as the basis for future drug discovery projects". B-MS research chief Francis Cuss noted that this is the firm's first discovery collaboration in China "and is an example of the company’s deepening commitment to the country". He described Tsinghua as "a world-renowned and highly esteemed research-based academic institution with expertise in target identification and structural biology".

Future rosy in China

Meantime, as the Tsinghua deal was announced, a senior B-MS executive has been talking about the company's expansion plans in China.

Reported in the Shanghai Daily newspaper, Beatrice Cazala, head of commercial operations, noted that sales in China grew more than 20% in the first quarter "and we're confident to maintain double-digit growth over the next five years". China is B-MS' fifth largest market in terms of revenue and it expects to introduce at least six new products there in the near future.

This year is the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the company’s joint venture in China, Sino-American Shanghai Squibb Pharmaceuticals, and Ms Cazala told the paper "we'll continue to invest to reach out to more regions. She added that B-MS is also looking at acquisitions there.

The US major recently expanded its pact with Simcere Pharmaceutical Group and also has an alliance in place with WuXi PharmaTech, the R&D outsourcing company.