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Week in Review: China Life Science Announces Deals Worth $1.3 Billion
Deals and Financing
Boehringer Ingelheim, a privately held German biopharma, launched its External Innovation Hub China in Shanghai to increase the company's China R&D partnerships (see story). The Hub will have $508 million to spend over the next five years on China clinical research, expansion of production sites and research partnerships. From now on, BI will include China trials for all of its products that reach clinical stage. The company plans on completing approvals in China for 71 new products or new indications by 2030.
Gan & Lee Pharma (SHA: 603087) completed a Shanghai IPO that raised $360 million for the company, which specializes in insulin treatments (see story). In initial trading, the stock was halted after it moved up to the Shanghai Exchange's 44% daily limit, a market capitalization of over $5 billion. The Beijing company's products consist of recombinant insulin analogues (third-generation insulin) and APIs that it markets in China and in foreign countries. The company's founder, Dr. Zhongru Gan, said Gan & Lee plans to develop R&D for oncology drugs, eukaryotic and prokaryotic protein engineering, and products for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
Hygeia Healthcare Holdings (HK 6078), China's largest provider of radiotherapy services for oncology, staged a $282 million IPO on the Hong Kong Exchange (see story). Founded in 2009, Shanghai's Hygeia provides radiotherapy services to 50 hospitals owned by 15 hospital partners in nine provinces. It also manufacturers a radiotherapy system known as GyroKnife, a therapy used in cancer treatment, and it operates its own network of 10 oncology hospitals in China, providing over 2,000 beds. Hygeia closed its first trading session at HK$26.00 per share, a gain of 40.5% over the IPO price.
SciClone in-licensed greater China rights from San Diego's EpicentRx to a small molecule immunotherapy targeting CD47-SIRPα currently in US Phase III testing to treat small-cell lung cancer (see story). SciClone will make an upfront payment to EpicentRx for RRx-001 and will also make an investment in the company if certain conditions are met. No further details were disclosed, but the companies did say SciClone will pay up to $120 million in milestones plus double-digit royalties on sales. SciClone will be responsible for a China arm of the global Phase III SCLC trial.
CapitalBio Tech, a Beijing molecular diagnostics product and service company, completed a $113 million funding to prepare for a listing on Shanghai's STAR Exchange (see story). The raise was led by Country Garden, a Hong Kong-listed property developer, which contributed half of the round. Founded in 2012, CapitalBio Tech is a healthcare and life science spinout from Tsinghua University. CapitalBio produces microarray and microfluidic chips as well as related instruments, software and databases, reagents and consumables for biomedical researchers and healthcare professionals.
Suzhou CF PharmTech closed a $50 million Series F round to support its portfolio of inhaled respiratory drugs (see story). In January, the company completed a $90 million Series E round. Founded in 2007, CF develops products delivered on four platforms: HFA (hydrofluoroalkane) metered dose inhalers, nasal sprays, nebulized and dry powder products. CF, which markets the respiratory drugs in China and global markets, has its headquarters and manufacturing facilities in Suzhou and an R&D Center in WuXi.
Hangzhou Lianchuan Biotechnology, a genomics/proteomics services provider, completed a $15 million Series B funding led by Hangzhou Heda Biomedical Venture Capital (see story). Lianchuan aims to provide genetic testing that is more accurate with a shorter processing time at a lower cost. The company's VariantPro™ one-step targeted capture technology uses molecular tags to simplify the capture process and avoid human error. Lianchuan says the technology improves sensitivity and ensures accuracy.
The COVID-19 vaccine developed by CanSino Biologics of Tianjin was approved for use by military personnel in China (see story). So far, the company has completed only a Phase I/IIa trial of the candidate. CanSino has not yet started a Phase III test, though it has published positive data from the Phase I/IIa trial of the vaccine showing that it was safe with preliminary signs of efficacy. The vaccine is an adeno-associated virus serotype 5 (AAV5) vector encoding the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. CanSino is partnering development of the vaccine with China's Academy of Military Medical Sciences.
A consortium of three China entities has begun Phase I tests of ARCoV, a messenger RNA vaccine for COVID-19 (see story). The three partners are the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Academy of Military Sciences, Suzhou Abogen Biosciences and Walvax Biotech. The candidate is the first mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 approved for China trials. In animal tests, ARCoV induced high levels of neutralizing antibodies and also induced protective T cell immune responses.
Trials and Approvals
Hua Medicine (HK: 2552) of Shanghai reported positive 24-week top-line results from a China Phase III of dorzagliatin, a global first-in-class glucokinase activator, among patients with type 2 diabetes (see story). Dorzagliatin was administered together with metformin and compared with metformin plus placebo. An oral drug, dorzagliatin produced a sustained HbA1c reduction of 1.02% from baseline, compared to the placebo's 0.66% reduction. Hua said it is looking for one or more partners to market the drug globally.
Burning Rock (NSDQ: BNR), a Guangzhou biotech, partnered with CStone Pharma (HK: 2616) to co-develop and commercialize companion diagnostics to detect RET alterations in cancer patients (see story). Suzhou's CStone is developing pralsetinib in China for cancers caused by RET mutations, especially non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Burning Rock specializes in Next-Gen Sequencing for precision oncology. The company has developed 32 tests for different cancer types and has labs in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.