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Week in Review: China Life Science Goes International for Deals
Deals and Financings
Hutchison China MediTech (Chi-Med) (AIM: HCM; NSDQ: HCM) will contribute $50 million to accelerate global clinical development of savolitinib, a c-MET inhibitor that Chi-Med partners with AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) (see story). Originally, AstraZeneca was supposed to pay for all ex-China tests of savolitinib while Chi-Med and AstraZeneca split development costs in China. In return, Chi-Med got a 5% boost in its share of ex-China revenues from savolitinib. The tiered royalty rate will become 14-18%, up from 9-13%. All other provisions of the 2011 agreement remain the same. The change to the $140 million Chi-Med-AstraZeneca deal followed positive Phase I and II trials of savolitinib. Chi-Med's novel drug operations are in Shanghai's Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park.
Ambrx, a San Diego biopharma, closed a $45 million financing round that will be used for a Phase I trial of its lead candidate, ARX788, a treatment for HER2-positive breast cancer (see story). Last year, Ambrx was acquired by a consortium of China pharmas and investment firms, including Fosun Pharma (SHA: 600196; HK: 02196) and WuXi AppTec, for an undisclosed price. The latest fundraising was led by US investors Apricot Capital and Northeast Securities Prosperity Healthcare Fund. It was joined by an all-China group including new investors Sinopharm Capital and Humanwell Healthcare Fund, and existing investors Fosun Pharma, HOPU Investments and Everbright Limited Healthcare.
Ornim Inc., an Israeli medical device company, raised $20 million in an initial closing of a Series C funding, led by LongTec HongTao China Ventures LP, a medical device specialist (see story). Ornim has developed the c-FLOW™ platform, a non-invasive device that provides real-time blood flow or perfusion measurement in the brain and other vital tissues. c-FLOW is already approved in the US. Ornim has begun the China registration process for the device, which is planned for 2017 completion. OrbiMed, GE Ventures, and other existing investors also participated in the financing.
Shangdong Luoxin Pharma (HKSE:8058) in-licensed exclusive China rights to a lung cancer drug candidate from South Korea's Yuhan Corp. (KSE: 000100) in a deal potentially worth $120 million in milestones (see story). The drug, YH25448, targets EGFR-mutation positive non-small cell lung cancer in patients resistant to existing therapies. The two pharmas will develop the drug simultaneously in Asia: Luoxin in greater China; Yuhan in Korea and Taiwan. Yuhan received $6 million upfront and is also eligible for double-digit royalties on revenues from Luoxin.
San Diego's Sorrento Therapeutics (NSDQ: SRNE) signed a binding term sheet to form a joint venture with CHA Biotech (KOSDAQ: CHA) of South Korea (see story). The JV will combine five of Sorrento's Chimeric Antigen Receptors for oncology and infectious diseases with CHA's Activated Killer Cell technology. The JV will hold global rights to the products with the exception of the Greater China market. Each company will invest $2 million into the venture, giving CHA a 51% stake in the JV, while Sorrento will own the rest. Also, Sorrento will have an exclusive license to develop CHA's AKC technology in major territories and a co-exclusive license in China.
San Diego's Ligand Pharma (NSDQ: LGND) formed a new company, Nucorion Pharma, that will develop three preclinical Ligand programs in China (see story). Each of the programs use Ligand’s LTP (Liver Targeting Prodrug) technology. Nucorion, which is backed by Silver River Investors of Hong Kong, will also develop drug candidates licensed directly from Ohio State University. The company will develop anti-cancer and anti-viral products with an initial target of the China market. Nucorion raised $5 million in a Series A led by Silver River; Ligand invested $1 million and will own less than 20% of Nucorion.
Ossen Innovation (NSDQ: OSN), a Shanghai company, plans to transform itself into a glucose monitoring medical device maker (see story). Ossen has struck a deal to acquire the American-Asia Diabetes Research Foundation, whose San MediTech (Huzhou) subsidiary offers a continuous glucose monitoring device in China. Ossen will spin off its present business -- the manufacture of pre-stressed steel materials for bridges -- to a buyer group led by its current Chairman, Dr. Liang Tang. No financial details of the two transactions were disclosed. Board approval for the two deals is required.
Chengdu Olymvax Biopharma in-licensed greater China rights to a novel Group A Streptococcus (GAS) vaccine developed by Australia's Griffith University (see story). Olymvax will manufacture the vaccine for Phase I clinical trials that will be conducted concurrently in China and Australia. The needle-free vaccine is delivered in a single dose through the nose, which facilitates access to lung lining tissue, the location for most strep infections.Olymvax will pay Griffith royalties on sales and also make milestone payments. Specific details of the agreement were not disclosed.
Trials and Approvals
ViroMed (KOSDAQ: 084990) of South Korea obtained Investigational New Drug approval for VM202, its lead gene therapy drug candidate, from Korea's Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) (see story). ViroMed will conduct a Phase II trial of the drug in 108 Korean patients with ischemic heart disease (IHD); the goal is to increase heart function by forming new blood vessels. VM202 has already started two Phase III trials: one in patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) and the other for ischemic diabetic foot ulcers.