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Week in Review: BeiGene Signs $540 Million Deal for China Rights to Three HBV Candidates
Deals and Financing
Beijing's BeiGene (NSDQ: BGNE; HK: 06160) in-licensed Greater China rights to three inhibitors for chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) from Assembly Bio (NSDQ: ASMB) in a $540 million agreement (see story). All three molecules have started US clinical trials. BeiGene, which will make a $40 million upfront payment, is responsible for $500 million in milestones, plus royalties. BeiGene will contribute initial funding for China clinical development; subsequent costs will be shared equally.
Shanghai HaiHe Biopharma completed a $171 million Series C round led by Warburg Picus to advance its portfolio of innovative drugs (see story). The company has ten candidates in clinical trials, including three at Phase III stage or beyond. HaiHe has partnered with Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Science to develop novel cancer drugs for global markets. In 2018, HaiHe merged with RMX (Shanghai) Pharmaceutical Technology. Last year, the company raised $147 million in an A round.
Jiangsu Hansoh Pharma (HK: 3692) out-licensed ex-China for almonertinib, its lung cancer treatment, to EQRx™ of Cambridge, MA (see story). EQRx is committed to making innovative medicines available to global markets at significantly lower prices. In March 2020, almonertinib was granted marketing authorization from China's NMPA for second-line treatment in patients with NSCLC that has the EGFR T790M mutation. Hansoh will receive approximately $100 million in a combination of upfront and milestone payments, plus undisclosed commercial milestones and royalty payments.
Shanghai Antengene closed a $97 million Series C financing to support its portfolio of 12 hematology and oncology drug candidates (see story). Half of the portfolio has started clinical trials in China. Antengene in-licenses China rights to programs and conducts its own R&D on novel small molecules, monoclonal and bi-specific antibodies for cancer. The company said it would use the proceeds to fund clinical development of its pipeline, expand in-house R&D and build commercial infrastructure in APAC markets.
Thousand Oaks Bio, a China-US CDMO that offers GMP cell culture media and biomanufacturing services, closed a $64 million Series B round led by CICC (see story). Headquartered in Thousand Oaks, CA, most of TOBio's operations are in China. The company offers process development and full CDMO services. Founded in 2017, it raised $45 million in an A round last year to build a large-scale cell culture cGMP manufacturing facility in Shanghai.
CASI Pharma (NSDQ: CASI), a US biopharma developing products for China, raised $38 million in a private placement of 20 million shares of its common stock (see story). The company intends to use the proceeds to advance its product portfolio, acquire rights to new products and general/administrative expenses. CASI in-licenses products for China. One year ago, it launched its first product, Evomela® (Melphalan for Injection), in China, a conditioning treatment used prior to stem cell transplantation for multiple myeloma.
Xpect Vision Technology closed a $21 million Series B+ financing round to support its photon-counting X-ray imaging products intended for healthcare and industrial uses (see story). The company applies its photon-counting technology to two products: Xcellent Vision® Mammography, which includes AI-directed analysis, and LinearVision™ for an affordable dental imaging system. Based in Shenzhen, Xpect has R&D centers in Beijing and Shanghai. The round was led by Beijing Jianxing Medical Health Investment, a sub-fund of state-owned CCB International.
Stroke Medical, a Shanghai company that makes minimally invasive products to treat and prevent strokes, completed a $10 million Series C round (see story). Founded in 2016, Stroke Medical offers five product lines for stroke. Wang Guohui, founder and CEO of the company, said the new funds would be used to develop new products and market its existing offerings. LYFE Capital and Sherpa Venture Capital participated in the funding, and Das Capital acted as financial adviser.
JW Therapeutics, a Shanghai JV formed by Juno Therapeutics of Seattle and China CRO WuXi AppTec, acquired Syracuse Biopharma of Hong Kong (see story). Syracuse owns China rights to the Artemis® antibody TCR and solid tumor technology developed by Eureka Therapeutics, a Bay Area company. The technology is designed to develop more effective T cell therapies for solid and hematologic cancers. Eureka's lead cell therapy program is in a Phase I/II trial for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma.
In a Lancet article, Tianjin's CanSino Bio (HK: 6185) published positive early results from a Phase II trial of its COVID-19 vaccine (see story). The vaccine induced antibodies to the coronavirus and a T cell response in 85% of the participants, with a low level of adverse reactions. The trial, conducted in Wuhan, randomized patients to two doses of the vaccine or a placebo. Last week, CanSino said it is in negotiations to start a Phase III trial that enrolls 40,000 volunteers outside of China in countries where the COVID-19 pandemic is prevalent.
Trials and Approvals
Ascentage Pharma (HK: 6855) of Suzhou has begun dosing patients in a China Phase Ib trial of APG-115, its novel MDM2-p53 inhibitor, to treat hematologic malignancies (see story). It is already being tested in solid tumors. APG-115 is an oral, selective, small-molecule inhibitor of the MDM2-p53 protein-protein interaction. The candidate will be studied as a single agent or paired with azacitidine or cytarabine for r/r acute myeloid leukemia or high risk myelodysplastic syndrome.
N.B. Quadriga (NBQ) of Shanghai and Nantong announced the first patient has been dosed in a Australian Phase I trial of its novel brain cancer drug (see story). The trial is being conducted by NBQ and its partner, Quadriga Bio of Los Altos, CA. NBQ72S, also known as QBS10072S, is a novel, bi-functional small molecule that targets human LAT1 (L-type amino acid transporter 1), which is highly expressed on the blood-brain barrier and in glioblastoma multiforme along with other aggressive cancers. NBQ uses LAT1-targeting to develop treatments for brain metastases and GBM.
Hutchison China MediTech (Chi-Med) (NSDQ/AIM: HCM) has started a China Phase I trial of HMPL-306 for patients with hematological malignancies (see story). HMPL-306, the ninth innovative Chi-Med oncology asset discovered in-house, is a novel selective small molecule dual inhibitor of isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) 1 and 2 mutations. The two mutations have been known to switch forms when under attack. HMPL-306 is intended to address resistance to IDH inhibitors that is acquired via switching isoforms.