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Merck Discontinues Clinical Development Program of Tecemotide as a Monotherapy in Stage III Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

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DARMSTADT, Germany /PRNewswire/ —

Not intended for UK-based media

Merck announced today that its biopharmaceutical division Merck Serono will discontinue the clinical development program of its investigational MUC1 antigen-specific cancer immunotherapy tecemotide (also known as L-BLP25) as a monotherapy in Stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Luciano Rossetti, Global Head of Research & Development at Merck Serono, said: “While the data from the exploratory subgroup analysis in the START trial[1] generated a reasonable hypothesis to warrant additional study, the results of the recent trial in Japanese patients decreased the probability of current studies to reach their goals. Therefore, we have decided to discontinue the development of tecemotide as a monotherapy in NSCLC in order to refocus our efforts on other promising candidates in our pipeline, like our anti-PD-L1 antibody MSB0010718C. Merck Serono remains committed to developing new treatment options for patients with difficult-to-treat cancers.”

The company’s decision to discontinue the current clinical program in NSCLC, which includes the Phase III START2 and INSPIRE studies, follows recent results from a planned analysis of EMR 63325-009, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase I/II study in Japanese patients with Stage III unresectable, locally advanced NSCLC who had received concurrent or sequential chemoradiotherapy (CRT), with a minimum of two cycles of platinum-based chemotherapy and radiation dose ≥50 Gy. Of the patients included in the Phase II part of the study, the majority had received concurrent CRT. The results indicate that no effect has been observed for either the primary endpoint, overall survival (OS), or for any of the secondary endpoints (progression-free survival [PFS], time to progression [TTP] and time to treatment failure). An analysis of the reported adverse events has not identified a clinically meaningful difference in the frequency between treatment groups. Although the trial was not powered to demonstrate a statistically significant difference in benefit between the two arms, Merck Serono made the recommendation to stop the investigational treatment for patients in the EMR 63325-009 study in Japan.

Merck Serono has made the decision to discontinue all other Merck Serono-sponsored clinical trials with tecemotide in NSCLC worldwide. Those patients on active treatment with tecemotide can undergo an individual assessment by their treating physician and apply to receive further treatment outside of the studies. The company will continue to supply tecemotide for ongoing investigator-sponsored trials in other indications in accordance with Merck’s agreements with the sponsors of these studies.

Merck Serono continues to evaluate a number of investigational compounds for difficult-to-treat cancers, and remains committed to improving the lives of cancer patients and their families.


  1. Butts C, et al. Lancet Oncol 2014;15(1):59-68.

About tecemotide

Tecemotide is an investigational MUC1 antigen-specific cancer immunotherapy that is designed to stimulate the body’s immune system to identify and target cells expressing the cell-surface glycoprotein MUC1. MUC1 is expressed in many cancers, including NSCLC, and has multiple roles in tumor growth and survival. Tecemotide was being investigated in the Phase III START2, START and INSPIRE trials for the treatment of unresectable, locally advanced Stage III NSCLC.

Merck obtained the exclusive worldwide rights for development and commercialization of tecemotide from Oncothyreon Inc., Seattle, Washington, U.S., in 2007, in an agreement replacing prior collaboration and supply agreements originally entered in 2001. In Japan, Merck entered into a co-development and co-marketing agreement for tecemotide with Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Osaka, Japan.

The START2 study is a Phase III, multicenter, 1:1 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial designed to assess the efficacy, safety and tolerability of tecemotide in patients suffering from unresectable, locally advanced (Stage IIIA or IIIB) NSCLC who have had a response or stable disease after at least two cycles of platinum-based concurrent CRT. Concurrent CRT – a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy given at the same time – is the current standard of care for most of these patients. The study, which began in April 2014, expected to recruit about 1,000 patients. The study’s primary endpoint is OS. Secondary endpoints include time to symptom progression, PFS and TTP.

The basis for the START2 trial was the outcome of the initial START study. START did not meet the primary endpoint of demonstrating an improved OS with tecemotide compared with placebo in the overall patient population (n=1,239). Median OS was 25.6 months for patients in the tecemotide group compared with 22.3 months for those in the placebo group (adjusted hazard ratio [HR]: 0.88; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.75-1.03; p=0.123). However, data from an exploratory analysis of a pre-defined subgroup of patients in the START trial, who received tecemotide after concurrent CRT, showed that these patients achieved a median OS of 30.8 months versus 20.6 months in patients treated with placebo (n=806; HR: 0.78; 95% CI: 0.64-0.95; p=0.016).

INSPIRE is a Phase III, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial designed to evaluate the efficacy, safety and tolerability of tecemotide in patients suffering from unresectable, locally advanced Stage IIIA or IIIB NSCLC who have had a response or stable disease after at least two cycles of platinum-based concurrent CRT. INSPIRE expected to recruit approximately 500 Stage III NSCLC patients across mainland China, Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan.

All Merck Press Releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Website. Please go to to register online, change your selection or discontinue this service.

Merck is a leading company for innovative and top-quality high-tech products in the pharmaceutical and chemical sectors. With its four divisions Merck Serono, Consumer Health, Performance Materials and Merck Millipore, Merck generated total revenues of € 11.1 billion in 2013. Around 39,000 Merck employees work in 66 countries to improve the quality of life for patients, to further the success of our customers and to help meet global challenges. Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company – since 1668, the company has stood for innovation, business success and responsible entrepreneurship. Holding an approximately 70% interest, the founding family remains the majority owner of the company to this day. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany is holding the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are Canada and the United States, where the company is known as EMD.

Source: Merck KGaA

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September 15, 2014 at 3:46 pm

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Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova First Players to Qualify for BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore Presented by SC Global

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ST PETERSBURG, Florida /PRNewswire/ —

Season-long Road to Singapore enters final weeks as player field takes shape

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced today that World No. 1 and US Open champion, Serena Williams, and World No. 4, Maria Sharapova, have qualified for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, staged at the Singapore SportsHub from October 17-26.

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“The WTA Finals is the ultimate goal of the season and I am excited to be back for another year and defend my title,” said Williams.  “I am looking forward to going to Singapore and competing against the best players in the world.”  The 32-year-old American is the current WTA World No.1; Williams has held the top ranking since February 18, 2013.

Set to return to the WTA Finals for the ninth time in her career (2001-02, 2004, 2007-09, 2012-14), Williams has raised the Billie Jean King Trophy in her last three WTA Finals appearances (2009, 2012-13) and on her debut in 2001. She also boasts two runner-up finishes (2002, 2004).

27-year-old Russian, Maria Sharapova, won three titles this year, highlighted by a stellar clay-court season in which she posted a 19-1 match record en route to titles at the Porsche Grand Prix (Stuttgart), Mutua Madrid Open and Roland Garros, her fifth career Grand Slam title. This season marks the 12th consecutive year that Sharapova has won at least one singles title, a streak that dates back to 2003 and currently stands as the fourth best in WTA history. She is set to return to the WTA Finals for the first time since 2012, and is a former champion, having won the event on her debut in 2004 and finished runner-up in 2007 and 2012.

“I am really excited to qualify for the WTA Finals and to bring the best in women’s tennis to Singapore,” said Sharapova.

The 2014 WTA Finals will feature the Top 8 singles players competing in a round-robin event. For the latest Road to Singapore Leaderboard as of Monday, September 8, visit

For more information, log on to the WTA Finals website, Twitter (@WTAFinalsSG) and Facebook (

General public tickets can be purchased through Sports Hub Tix

Source: WTA

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September 15, 2014 at 3:40 pm

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Bloomberg BNA Enhances Comprehensive Resource For International Tax Research Needs

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— Global Tax Professionals Can Now Conduct International Tax Research More Thoroughly and Effectively

ARLINGTON, Va. /PRNewswire/ — Bloomberg BNA today released significant enhancements to its Premier International Tax Library, a comprehensive resource for international tax research that helps practitioners make more informed business decisions and provide value-added tax guidance. The new release includes expanded content from leading in-country practitioners, enabling tax professionals to benefit from the timely insight and unique expertise of Bloomberg BNA’s global network of third-party tax experts to better manage cross-border tax issues — from the latest updates on inversions to transfer pricing developments.

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The product now features multiple tools to help research Value Added Taxes and Withholding Tax Rates and quickly compare rates and laws across 114 jurisdictions. It also includes the International Tax Developments Tracker, which alerts practitioners to the latest tax developments for topics and jurisdictions they care about most.

“Managing tax policy, rate changes and information across dozens of countries represents an enormous and ongoing challenge,” said Darren McKewen, President, Tax & Specialty Division, Bloomberg BNA. “We spoke with practitioners around the globe as we developed these new features, and one thing that stood out is the need to stay on top of all of the latest changes across a large number of jurisdictions and a wide array of tax topics in order to craft effective tax strategies. With the Premier International Tax Library’s new functionality and content, such as chart builders, enhanced VAT and withholding rate tools and customizable news alerts, tax professionals now have even more resources at their disposal to ensure that their tax research is up to date and thorough.”

The Premier International Tax Library is an integrated solution for tax professionals and global businesses featuring in-depth analysis, daily breaking news and developments, commentary on emerging trends, extensive coverage of major tax treaties, and ongoing discussions with leading international experts. Bloomberg BNA alone possesses the powerful combination of tax research tools, news, and primary sources — such as the Premier International Tax Library — integrated with the critical foundation of the Tax Management Portfolios™ authored by expert practitioners, providing tax professionals a full research solution.

The full set of new content and functionality includes:

  • International Tax Developments Tracker, which helps tax professionals stay on top of tax news and changes with customizable filters and email alerts.
  • VAT Navigator and VAT Chart Builder, which allow users to quickly compare worldwide VAT laws, practice and rates.
  • Withholding Rate Chart Builder enables quick comparison of statutory withholding tax rates for a variety of tax types across countries.
  • My Countries option gives users a shortcut to quickly and easily access those jurisdictions that they research most often, saving them time and improving efficiency.
  • “Getting the Deal Through” provides topic-driven analysis covering tax controversy and taxation of inbound investments.
  • International News provides a consolidated view into the news coverage across all of Bloomberg BNA’s international news publications so users get international tax news in one place.
  • Tax Treaty Analysis has been expanded with new analysis and summaries, written by in-country expert practitioners, for 31 major economies.

For more information on the Premier International Tax Library and to start a free 7-day product trial, visit here.

About Bloomberg BNA
Bloomberg BNA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bloomberg, is a leading source of legal, regulatory, and business information for professionals. Its network of more than 2,500 reporters, correspondents, and leading practitioners delivers expert analysis, news, practice tools, and guidance — the information that matters most to professionals. Bloomberg BNA’s authoritative coverage spans a full range of legal practice areas, including tax & accounting, labor & employment, intellectual property, banking & securities, employee benefits, health care, privacy & data security, human resources, and environment, health & safety.

Source: Bloomberg BNA

Written by asiafreshnews

September 15, 2014 at 3:21 pm

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Lanson Place Hospitality Management Appoints Benson Soo as Head of Guest Experience

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HONG KONG, Sept. 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Lanson Place Hospitality Management Limited (Lanson Place) is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Benson Soo as Head of Guest Experience, effective from 2 September 2014.

The chief role of Benson is to spearhead Lanson Place’s hallmark in excellent guest services. He will formulate and analyse guest service improvement strategies and provide direction and initiatives to all Lanson Place guest service operations, ensuring that these are well incorporated and delivered by Lanson Place guest service team.

With over 20 years of experience in guest service positions, Benson has worked at W Hong Kong where he served as Director of Welcome – Rooms Division. Prior to this, he has also worked for various leading luxury hotel groups such as Ritz Carlton, Mandarin Oriental, InterContinental Hong Kong and Swire Hotels Group.

As an experienced Concierge, Benson is being recognized as a full member of the Society of the Golden Key of Hong Kong since 2003. In addition, he has been selected as a “Hong Kong Hero” by Conde Nast Traveller magazine in appraisal of his profound knowledge in local know-how.

Mr. Marc Hediger, Chief Executive Officer of Lanson Place said, “I am delighted to welcome Benson to the Lanson Place family. With his wealth of experience in guest services, Benson will play a key role in bringing our renowned Lanson Place Experience Programmes to the next level of excellence.”

About Lanson Place Hospitality Management Limited

Lanson Place is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wing Tai Properties Limited, a publicly listed company in Hong Kong (HKEx stock code: 369), currently manages nine properties (four of which Wing Tai has equity in) under the Lanson Place brand, comprising high-end serviced apartments and a boutique hotel in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Lanson Place properties are generally located in close proximity to the central business district as well as shopping and entertainment precincts. Lanson Place aims to offer attentive and personalized service with the convenience of a luxury hotel and the comfort and privacy of home.

The Group will continue to grow the “Lanson Place” brand as a pan-Asian brand and will continue to explore investment and management opportunities mainly in gateway cities in the Asia-Pacific region. Aroma Garden Serviced Suites by Lanson Place in Shanghai is scheduled to open at the end of 2014.

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September 15, 2014 at 3:07 pm

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Givex Acquires Marqui, Expanding Online and E-commerce Services

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TORONTO /PRNewswire/ — Givex, the global provider of cloud-based information services, which includes cloud-based Vexilor POS, gift cards, loyalty programs and Uptix stored value tickets announced today that it has acquired Marqui, a provider of Content Management Services (CMS) and digital design services and technology

The purchase of Marqui further strengthens Givex’s ability to build dynamic, full-featured web and mobile experiences for client programs. Clients will also benefit from added flexibility, customizability and ease-of-use.

Marqui is a fully-featured, SaaS-based, digital marketing suite combining features for quick and easy web and email content management with powerful marketing automation tools. Marqui’s technology empowers marketers to build, track and manage every aspect of their digital marketing initiatives from impression to sale and includes a robust set of tools for integrating directly with many popular CRM systems (including Salesforce). Build your site, create campaigns and analyze the results, all within the same system.

Not only will Marqui technology support Givex clients, but the Marqui technology will continue to be built on and improved, becoming a powerful Content Management System that Givex will continue to license to clients who wish to manage their own website content, with the strength of the Givex platform behind it.

About Givex

Givex is a technology company offering clients a global reach with cost-effective gift card, omni-channel loyalty, analytics, stored value tickets, and cloud-based POS systems. Our core distinction is taking on the tough task of managing all aspects of the transaction to ensure companies can deliver maximum customer satisfaction. Givex products and services give you insight into your data to enable you to better drive sales growth, customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning.

For more information or media inquiries, please contact

Bryan Wang
Director of Marketing
Phone: 416.350.9660 x 309
Toll free: 1.877.478.7733
Fax: 416.350.9661


Source: Givex

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September 15, 2014 at 2:29 pm

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Markel Global Reinsurance adds Erik Manning, Jamie Welsby and John Duda to its team

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RICHMOND, Va. /PRNewswire/ — Markel Corporation (NYSE: MKL) announced today that Dr. Erik Manning and Jamie Welsby have been appointed Managing Directors of Markel Global Reinsurance (Markel Re), Markel Corporation’s reinsurance operating division. In addition, John Duda has been appointed Assistant Vice President, Reinsurance Underwriter for Markel Re.

Jed Rhoads, President and Chief Underwriting Officer, Property Reinsurance for Markel Re, commented, “We are very pleased to be adding Erik, Jamie and John to our Bermuda leadership team. They bring a wealth of knowledge and experience in the managed third party capital property reinsurance business that will be an asset to us as we seek to expand our presence in that marketplace. They will enhance our analytical capabilities and help develop a broader product offering, as well as assist with fundraising and the servicing of our clients, brokers, and investors. Their activities will not be limited to the assumed retrocessional reinsurance we write on Markel paper and New Point, our eight year old special purpose insurance vehicle.

“Erik, Jamie and John will bolster our existing Managed Cat and Retro team located in Bermuda that currently comprises Andrew ‘Barney’ Barnard, Crystal Doughty and Elena Marshall. We are committed to the retrocessional market and growing our managed third party capital business.”

Erik Manning recently served as Managing Director, Specialty Practice for Guy Carpenter Bermuda. Previously, Erik was Director, ICG/DCM at Deutsche Bank (based in London). Prior to joining Deustche Bank, he was Senior Structure, Insurance Linked Securities at ABN, AMRO. He has also worked at RK Carvill and Company, Ltd. Erik earned his bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University and his master’s degree from University ofSheffield. He has a doctorate degree in Theory of Risk from Birkbeck, University of London.

Jamie Welsby was most recently Principal at Logic Reinsurance Underwriting Management, Ltd., which he co-founded. Prior to helping create Logic, Jamie was Head of Property Reinsurance at RBC Reinsurance in Toronto. He has 23 years of reinsurance underwriting and management experience. He also worked with GE Insurance/Frankona, where he held the positions of Global Property Portfolio Leader, Global Catastrophe Leader, and Pricing Actuarial Leader based in Munich, Germany. Jamie is a graduate of McMaster University.

John Duda most recently served as a Portfolio Manager for Logic Reinsurance in Toronto. His experience also includes roles at Benfield (then Aon Benfield) and Guy Carpenter, working in the Canadian and Advisory teams. John has an analytics background and has focused on the placement of property catastrophe business. He has also worked for Zurich Financial Services in London. John earned his bachelor’s degree in Math from the University of Waterloo.

About Markel Corporation
Markel Corporation is a diverse financial holding company serving a variety of niche markets. The Company’s principal business markets and underwrites specialty insurance products. In each of the Company’s businesses, it seeks to provide quality products and excellent customer service so that it can be a market leader. The financial goals of the Company are to earn consistent underwriting and operating profits and superior investment returns to build shareholder value. Visit Markel Corporation on the web at

Source: Markel Corporation

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September 15, 2014 at 2:26 pm

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Pure Oud Oil brand Fragrance Du Bois expands into the Middle East

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-Fragrance Du Bois sets tongues wagging and noses twitching in the haute perfumery world of the Middle East.

SINGAPORE, Sept. 11, 2014  /PRNewswire/ — As the only fragrance brand in the world to guarantee the use of only sustainably sourced Oud oil – from its very own plantations – Du Bois’ creations are creating quite a storm among some of the world’s most discerning perfume aficionados. Hand crafted by some of the world’s leading and most innovative perfumers, Du Bois’ fragrances are exotic, complex, elemental and extraordinary.

Fragrance Du Bois boutiques located at the Fullerton Hotel, Singapore and the Starhill Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Fragrance Du Bois boutiques located at the Fullerton Hotel, Singapore and the Starhill Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Oud Intense Range from Fragrance Du Bois
Oud Intense Range from Fragrance Du Bois


Some of the perfumes are formulated in Fragrance Du Bois’ own perfumery – located in the foothills of Grasse, Cote d’Azur, France – providing a superb range of intoxicating scents for its newly opened boutiques in Singapore’siconic Fullerton Hotel, and Kuala Lumpur’s luxury mall at the Starhill Gallery. Curiosity and fascination have given rise to feverish interest in a brand that has garnered a cult following around the world in record time.

Award Winning

Although relatively new in the market, Fragrance Du Bois is already gathering in the accolades, after one of its perfumes – created by 5th generation Master Perfumer Francois Merle-Baudoin – was shortlisted in the world’s top 10 new fragrances at the Art and Olfactory Awards in Los Angeles, USA. Clients across the Arabian Gulf and the wider world already include royalty, high-profile celebrities and VVIPs alike.


“Given the level of interest we have had from clients and retailers across the Middle East,” says Parisian Brand Director and spokesperson Chloé Kurzmann, “we have decided to focus on opening boutiques and retail outlets with retailers and luxury goods outlets that match our clientele.”

She continues, “You will never see our brand on the high street as a mass market brand. All of our creations are hand crafted, using 100% pure and organic Oud oil, with a selection of vintages; all supplied from estates managed by Asia Plantation Capital. People don’t just visit our boutiques to buy a perfume. They come to immerse their senses in a unique olfactory experience that will help match their Oud-based fragrance to their specific personalities. Additionally, our perfumers or ‘Noses’, can work with a client on a specific fragrance created by hand, uniquely for them. Even when it comes to a choice of box and presentation for your perfume, our clients can select from a range of presentation cases, hand crafted by artisans, and in a choice of luxury finishes from velvet to the finest natural leathers and hides.”


Recent reports suggest that the annual market for Oud fragrances in the Middle East alone, is 6.1 billion Saudi Riyals, and Du Bois, with its unique and incomparable range of fine and bespoke fragrances, intends to offer its products across the Middle East, with planned openings in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Dohaalready in progress.

One of the world’s leading and most respected authorities on fine fragrance, Roja Dove, recently published a short film on the value of Oud and its importance to the world of haute perfumery – with particular focus on its place in Middle Eastern culture. Roja Dove’s own range of fine fragrances include some sumptuous Oud-based accords, and he is so eminent in his field that he has been entrusted with running the refinery on the 5th Floor in Harrods,London – unquestionably one of the world’s most prestigious fine fragrance emporiums, frequented by many of the Gulf’s elite when visiting the United Kingdom.


Business Development Director for Asia Plantation Capital Gary Crates says, “The demand for our Oud oils and woodchips in the Middle East and Asia has grown exponentially in recent years, and it’s very much as a result of global brands such as Tom Ford – along with respected experts such as Roja Dove – understanding the importance of this mystical and luxurious ingredient. This has led to a wider appreciation of its values, and the importance of consistent and sustainable supplies of 100% pure Oud oil, which we can provide.”

He continues, “The market for Oud and its products has grown consistently since records began in 1880, appreciating at 4% per annum during that time, and by 15% per annum over the last two decades. This is according to CITES and Traffic Reports, and we believe that growth will continue, year on year. Most gratifyingly,” Crates concludes, “we have the support of leading environmentalists and organisations such as the Prince Albert of Monaco Foundation, which has played a big part in raising and broadening consumer awareness.”


It’s clear that Oud and fragrances produced from this ultimate of nature’s ingredients will continue to be enjoyed for generations to come, thanks largely to responsible and accountable companies such as Asia Plantation Capital, as well as socially and environmentally responsible fragrance brands such as Fragrance Du Bois. With continued research, innovation and the dedication of perfumers and academics such as Roja Dove, the momentum is building in the quest to make the world and consumers aware of and able to experience this most mystical of products.

Notes to Editors:

About Fragrance Du Bois

Fragrance Du Bois is a niche luxury perfume house working closely with sustainable plantations in Asia, bringing exciting new 100% organic Oud oil based fragrances to exclusive markets worldwide. Sustainably sourcing the finest raw materials across the globe, working with French perfumers to create a full range of products, and also providing bespoke fragrance services, Fragrance Du Bois is personal luxury with a conscience. With exclusive fragrance lounges around the world, in Dubai, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, Fragrance Du Bois creates only the finest experience in bespoke perfumery.

Fragrance Du Bois is known as Parfums Du Bois in France and in non-French speaking markets, as Fragrance Du Bois.

Fragrance Du Bois, The Fullerton Hotel #01-07, 1 Fullerton Square, 049178 Singapore
Tel: + 65 653 657 71 | Email:

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Source: Fragrance Du Bois

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September 15, 2014 at 11:08 am

Posted in Uncategorized