The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a sharp increase in depression: a new study published in the Lancet shows that cases of depression rose by 53 million globally due to the pandemic, 28% above pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, a Chinese company Shineco, Inc. (NASDAQ: SISI) shows its ambition to contribute to the long-term development of the biomedical industry and the treatment of depression globally.
As a Nasdaq-listed China-based company, Shineco is a producer and distributor of Chinese herbal medicines, organic agricultural and hemp products and other biotech products. Earlier this month, the company announced that it entered into a framework agreement to acquire over 51% equity interest of Beijing Wonner Biotech Co., Ltd., to jointly develop SNG, a rapid-acting antidepressant natural innovative medicine.
After years of efforts, SNG recently has made breakthroughs and achieved progressive results in the research of biological targeting and mechanism acting. As the Chairman of Beijing Wonner, Zuoguang Zhang has researched and developed natural medicines and related products in China for two decades. Zuoguang’s research was published on the Phytomedicine journal, suggesting that Albiflorin produces rapid antidepressant-like effects in three models of depression, chronic unpredictable mild stress (CUMS), olfactory bulbectomy (OBX), and lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced murine models of depression.
The study showed that the therapeutic effects of albiflorin are highly associated with the rapid restoration of a set of common metabolic abnormities in the hippocampus across all three depression models, including phospholipid and tryptophan metabolism. It contributed to a better understanding of the homogeneity in the metabolic mechanisms of depression and established a proof-of-concept for rapid treatment of depression through targeting dysregulated neurometabolic pathways.
Current antidepressants showed delayed onset and limited therapeutic efficacy. As a result, the progressive developments of SNG will be good news for the current antidepressant market. It is found that the antidepressant mechanism of SNG is different from traditional monoamine medicines, and SNG’s potential advantages are rapid-acting, safe, and cost-effective with minor side effects. At present, SNG has had preliminary conditions for the application of clinical trials.
“In addition to the advantages of rapid-acting performance, SNG may have the potential to treat inflammatory major depressive disorder (MDD). Shineco’s investment will advance the progress of SNG R&D and the application of clinical trials, and bring products to the market for the benefit of patients.” Zuoguang Zhang said.
According to the framework agreement, the final purchase price of the acquisition between Shineco and Beijing Wonner will be separately determined based on the evaluation report issued by a third party, but no more than $30 million. Jennifer Zhan, CEO of Shineco, commented, “The global antidepressants market will exceed $16 billion by 2023 and the Chinese market will exceed $10 billion with an annual growth rate of over 10%. The acquisition of Beijing Wonner is not only a strategic plan for innovative medicines, but also an advanced plan for the sharp increase in patients with depression recovering from COVID-19 pandemic.”
The global antidepressant market was valued at approximately $14.5 billion in 2020, and it is expected to witness a revenue of $17.2 billion in 2026, with a CAGR of 2.68% over the forecast period. As the company keeps focusing on the innovation of the pharmaceutical sector, increasing investments in the biomedical industry and the treatment of depression globally, Shineco is poised to diversify its business and the pipeline of the products, gain competitive advantages and generate more sizable revenues for the long term.