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Week in Review: China Life Science Scores over $1 Billion in Week's Deals

publication date: Feb 27, 2021
author/source: Richard Daverman, PhD

Deals and Financings

BGI Genomics (SHZ: 300676) of Shenzhen raised almost $300 million in a private placement for its next-gen sequencing services and genetic tests for medical institutions (see story). The company, which has been a major supplier of COVID-19 tests to global markets, raised capital to expand capacity and develop new products. Traditionally, it has focused on prenatal screening, hereditary cancer screening, testing for rare disease and precision medicine research. BGI Genomics is a part of BGI Group, one of the world’s largest genomics organizations.

New Horizon Health (HK: 6606) staged a $263 million IPO last week on the Hong Kong Exchange to support its early cancer screening tests (see story). The stock tripled in trading, giving the company a market cap of $4.3 billion. New Horizon markets two stool based tests in China: ColoClear, a multi-target, FIT-DNA test aimed at people at risk for colorectal cancer, and Pupu Tube, a self-administered FIT test intended to screen a larger population. The company also has two late-stage product candidates for gastric and cervical cancer screening.

Clover Biopharma of Chengdu closed an oversubscribed $230 million Series C round for its protein-based vaccines and cancer therapies based on Trimer-Tag© technology (see story). The company plans to start a global Phase II/III efficacy trial for its S-Trimer COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the first half of 2021. It has also begun making plans for producing hundreds of millions of vaccine doses by the end of the year. The Series C was co-led by GL Ventures, a Hillhouse venture fund, and Temasek.  

Beijing's YishengBio closed a $130 million Series B funding round to develop novel biotherapeutics for cancer and infectious diseases using its novel PIKA® immunomodulating technology (see story). The company's YSJA™ rabies vaccine is the first alum-free lyophilized rabies vaccine launched in China. Its novel PIKA immunomodulating technology platform increases innate and adaptive immune responses through the TLR3, RIG-I and MDA5 pathways. The B round was co-led by Oceanpine and OrbiMed.

ABclonal Biotechnology, a Massachusetts life science tools and services company, completed a $93 million Series C financing led by two China investors, Sequoia Capital China and LYFE Capital (see story). ABclonal said it currently is negotiating to acquire a contract research organization focused on single-cell-based monoclonal antibody development. The acquisition would expand its R&D pipelines globally. ABclonal also plans to use the capital to expand the production capabilities of its research reagent products and services.

Cullgen, a San Diego-Shanghai small molecule company, completed a $50 million Series B financing to support its uSMITE™ platform for targeted protein degradation (see story). The company develops first-in-class chemical entities that address unmet needs. Its platform is a ubiquitin-mediated, small molecule-induced target elimination technology (uSMITE™). Going beyond inhibition, the company's candidates are designed to eliminate previously undruggable enzymes and proteins. The company thinks novel E3 ligands provide the most promising pathway for eliminating targeted proteins.

AnchorDx Medical, a Guangzhou diagnostics company, completed a $40 million Series C financing, which it will use to advance its next-gen DNA methylation sequencing products for single-cancer, multi-cancer and pan-cancer screening and early detection (see story). AnchorDx, which already has a commercialized lung cancer test, also plans to expand its focus to other diseases. The C round was jointly led by OrbiMed and WuXi Huiying Investment, a healthcare fund chaired by Dr. Ed Hu, Co-CEO of WuXi AppTec. 

Bioelectronica of Reno, Nevada closed a $16 million Series A investment from two China investors, Proxima Ventures and Co-win Ventures, to support its novel drug discovery/development platform (see story). Hypercell® is a single cell sorting platform that uses computer vision, data science and lensless imaging to enable single cell sorting assays with high throughput. Bioelectronica offers CRO services from novel assay development to scalable electrofluidics. The company believes its platform speeds up development and lowers costs.  

COVID-19 Pandemic 

Tianjin CanSino Biologics (HK: 6185; SHA: 688185) has filed for conditional China approval of its COVID-19 vaccine (see story). In an interim analysis of a global Phase III trial, the vaccine was 65% effective at preventing all symptomatic COVID-19 disease and 90% effective at preventing severe disease. CanSino, which partnered the vaccine with the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, Academy of Military Medical Sciences, tested it in 40,000 volunteers in five foreign countries. The Ad5-nCoV vaccine is delivered by an adenovirus Type 5 vector.  

Trials and Approvals 

Junshi Bio's (HK: 1877; SHA: 688180) anti-PD-1, toripalimab, was approved in China as a first-line treatment for recurrent or metastatic nasopharyngeal carcinoma (see story). Earlier this month, Junshi out-licensed US-Canada rights for the anti-PD-1 antibody to Coherus Bio (NSDQ: CHRS) in an agreement worth up to $1.1 billion, including a $150 million upfront payment. It is the second China approval for toripalimab, which was the first China-developed PD-1 candidate authorized to launch. It was originally approved as a second-line treatment for melanoma. 

I-Mab (NSDQ: IMAB), a Shanghai biotech, dosed the first patient in a pivotal China Phase III trial of a weekly treatment for pediatric growth hormone deficiency (PGHD) (see story). Eftansomatropin alfa (TJ101) is an innovative long-acting recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) with a novel molecular format that includes Genexine's half-life extension hyFc® fusion technology. Most rhGHs have to be injected daily. The primary endpoint is non-inferiority to Norditropin®, the current standard of care.

Harbour BioMed (HK: 02142) was approved to start a China trial of its next-gen anti-CTLA-4 antibody in patients with advanced NSCLC and other solid tumors (see story). The CTLA-4 antibody will be administered in combination with a PD-1 antibody or the PD-1 together with chemotherapy. HBM says the candidate is a fully human anti-CTLA-4 monoclonal heavy chain only antibody generated by its proprietary Harbour Mice® platform. HBM is headquartered in Cambridge, MA, with drug discovery operations in Rotterdam and an R&D facility in Suzhou.  

Innovent Biologics (HK: 01801) of Suzhou and IASO, a Bay Area-Nanjing biopharma, announced their partnered CAR-T candidate was granted Breakthrough Therapy status in China (see story). The BTD designation for CT103A is based on results from an ongoing China Phase I/II trial in patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma. CT103A is a fully-human anti-B-cell maturation antigen targeted CAR-T cell therapy that uses a lentivirus as a gene vector to transfect autologous T cells.

Disclosure: none.


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