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Celsion snags up to $100M Chinese pharma tie-up ahead of PhIII cancer data

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Celsion investors found a new reason to hope for a positive readout from a Phase III study of the developer's lead drug against liver cancer this month. The company grabbed $5 million in a development deal with China's Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical, which has shown interest in advancing Celsion's ThermoDox product in China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Announced on Tuesday, the deal comes just days away from Celsion's ($CLSN) expected Phase III results by the end of this month for ThermoDox in the most common type of liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma.

As of this morning, Celsion's shares have more than tripled over the past 12 months ahead of the upcoming late-stage trial results. In the deal with Hisun, however, investors seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach because there are many conditional aspects to a relationship between Celsion and its Chinese partner.

For instance, Celsion revealed that it could capture another $5 million in payment from Hisun through an option agreement within 60 days if Hisun doesn't nix the pact. Hisun could pay a total of $25 million (which would include the two $5 million fees for the development and option deals) to license ThermoDox for the Chinese market and territories. In all, Celsion could take in $100 million through the agreements with ThermoDox over the life of the relationship, The Wall Street Journal figures.

At the end of the day, Celsion's relationship with Hisun seems awfully conditional, with at least part of its future hinging on how well ThermoDox performs in trials. As The Street's Adam Feuerstein pointed out today on Twitter, Hisun can walk away from the whole thing for $5 million, which is the amount it has already paid Celsion.

- here's Celsion's release
- see the WSJ's article (sub. req.)
- and Celsion's SEC filing today

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