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Week in Review: China Resources and Charoen Pokphand Join to Launch $300 Million Life Science Fund
China Resources Holdings, a China-Hong Kong state-owned multi-sector conglomerate, will join with Charoen Pokphand Group of Bangkok, a Thai conglomerate, to launch the $300 million CR-CP Life Science Fund (see story). The two general partners will put a combined $150 million of their own money into the fund and raise another $150 million from global life science investors. The fund, based in Hong Kong, intends to invest in companies that are developing innovative drugs and cell therapies, medical devices and healthcare AI.
Indivior, a UK spinout from Reckitt Benckiser, will out-license China rights for its Sai Bo Song opioid addiction tablet to Zhejiang Pukang Biotech in a deal worth up to $122.5 million (see story). Sai Bo Song is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, known as Suboxone in non-China markets. Indivior developed Suboxone, but its patent protection on the original formulation has expired. The company is now focused on developing Sublocade, its once-monthly injection of Suboxone, in non-China markets, and Perseris, a once-monthly form of Risperidone for schizophrenia.
DNAnexus of Mountain View, CA closed a $68 million financing from existing investors, including WuXi NextCODE, a contract genomics company (see story). DNAnexus offers cloud-based biomedical informatics and data management of DNA sequence data. The company will use the capital for DNAnexus Apollo™, its multi-omics platform for clinical data exploration, analysis and discovery. DNAnexus supports some of the largest human genome sequencing projects in the world, offering secure infrastructure with access to tools and datasets.
HiberCell, a New York City biotech startup, started operations with $60.75 million in Series A funding led by ARCH Venture Partners, and joined by China investors, Hillhouse Capital and 6 Dimensions Capital (see story). HiberCell is focused on developing treatments that prevent cancer relapse and metastasis by focusing on detecting and treating dormant disseminated tumor cells. As HiberCell points out, most cancer deaths are caused by metastases, which can occur even if the primary cancer has been treated successfully.
Bolt Biotherapeutics, a Bay Area immunocology biotech, completed a $54 million Series B financing led by Pivotal bioVenture Partners of Hong Kong with additional participation from Nan Fung Life Sciences (see story). Pivotal is a Nan Fung investment fund. Bolt is developing systemic immune system treatments to provide immunity-based therapies for cancer. The company will use the funds to advance its lead Boltbody™ Immune-Stimulating Antibody Conjugate (ISAC) into the clinic.
EdiGene, a Beijing-Cambridge, MA company that uses gene editing technology to develop novel therapeutics, completed a $10 Million Series pre-B Plus financing (see story). The latest round was led by new investor Shenzhen Green Pine Capital Partners. Founded in 2015, EdiGene combines its CRISPR/Cas 9 gene editing technologies with high-throughput genomic screening and functional big data of underlying biology. It is developing a portfolio of candidates to treat genetic diseases and cancer. The company also offers CRO discovery services based on its CRISPR/Cas 9-based screening platforms.
MicuRx, a San Francisco-Shanghai anti-infectives company, acquired China rights to an investigational treatment for antibiotic-resistant infections from Recida Therapeutics of the US (see story). Recida recently acquired global rights (ex-Japan) to the IND-stage candidate from FujiFilm Toyama. RC-01 is a novel LpxC inhibitor aimed at multidrug-resistant gram-negative infections. Recida is a newco formed by Frazier Healthcare Partners and funded with $8.5 million in initial capital from Frazier and CARB-X of Boston.
Suzhou's GeneQuantum Healthcare formed a collaboration with MITRO Biotech of Nanjing to develop next-gen radionuclide conjugates (see story). GeneQuantum uses its proprietary ligase dependent conjugation technology to discover new antibody drug conjugates (ADCs) for cancer. MITRO is a molecular imaging CRO that offers translational drug development services including in vivo imaging to facilitate cost-effective drug discovery. The two companies expect to develop efficient non-invasive diagnostic tools for cancer and precisely targeted therapies.
Trials and Approvals
CStone Pharma of Suzhou and Impact Therapeutics of Nanjing announced China's NMPA accepted their IND filing for a cancer therapy that combines CStone's PD-L1 mAb with Impact's PARP inhibitor (see story). In 2018, CStone and Impact agreed to collaborate on global clinical trials for the combination, and the acceptance of the IND filing is the first major regulatory milestone in the collaboration. The companies plan to test the combination as a treatment for advanced solid tumors.
Suzhou Innovent Biologics (HK: 01801) was granted NMPA approval to start trials of a PD-1 bi-specific drug in patients with hematological and advanced solid tumors (see story). In December, Innovent's lead PD-1 candidate, Tyvyt® (sintilimab), was approved for marketing in China (see story). The IND approval announced today is for IBI318, which targets the programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) and an undisclosed tumor-associated antigen (TAA). Innovent expects the bi-specific mechanism will make the PD-1 mechanism more effective in solid tumors.