publication date: Jan 2, 2021
author/source: Richard Daverman, PhD
Deals and Financings
DXY.cn, a China healthcare platform, raised $500 million in an E round led by Trustbridge Partners with Tencent and Hillhouse Capital’s GL Ventures participating (see story). DXY was formed 20 years ago as an information sharing and data collection site for doctors. More recently, it has expanded into consumer healthcare, offering on-line doctor consultations and wholly-owned clinics for in-person visits. The new capital will increase the synergy between its physician support and consumer services, its two "pillars," according to DXY founder Tiantian Li.
Beijing's Oceanpine Capital closed its Fund II with $400 million for China-US investments in advanced technology, including biopharma companies (see story). Founded in late 2016, Oceanpine used $400 million in capital from general partners for its first fund, including founder Dave Chenn, who built the conglomerate China Century Group. For the second fund, Oceanpine has raised money from external LPs alongside Oceanpine GPs. In the last four years, Oceanpine has invested over $1 billion in over 40 companies using Fund I and other investment vehicles.
Medbanks Network Technology completed a $305 million Series E1 round led by Tencent and Jeneration Capital (see story). Medbanks is a Beijing-headquartered big data medical and healthcare services provider, specializing in oncology. The company helps researchers, clinicians and pharmas with data, helping pharmaceutical firms coordinate clinical trials for new drug and clinicians find the right treatment for a patient's particular cancer. Tencent has now participated in five Medbanks rounds.
Shanghai's Zai Lab (NSDQ: ZLAB; HK: 9688) in-licensed China rights to a next-gen EGFR inhibitor aimed at cells expressing mutant EGFR variants from Boston's Cullinan Oncology in an agreement worth up to $233 million (see story). CLN-081 is an oral EGFR inhibitor currently being tested in a US Phase I/IIa trial that enrolled NSCLC patients with EGFR Ex20ins mutations. Zai develops novel targeted oncology and immuno-oncology therapies along with products addressing infectious diseases for China use.
Synyi AI, a Shanghai company that offers artificial intelligence technology for medical treatment, closed a $61 million Series D round led by CICC Alpha, a direct investment platform of China International Capital Corporation (CICC) (see story). Synyi AI has been backed by China internet company Tencent, which participated in the funding along with Sunshine Insurance Group. Founded in 2016, Synyi AI provides hospitals, medical institutions and drug makers with AI and big data technologies to improve their efficiency in clinical research, clinical diagnosis/treatment and hospital management.
Shenzhen ImmVira completed a Series C financing of undisclosed size. The company focuses on the use of oncolytic viruses and vector approaches for cancer drugs that promise increased safety and efficacy over other types of drug delivery (see story). The company will use the proceeds to fund an international multi-center trial for its lead product (MVR-T3011-IT) plus filing INDs and starting clinical trials for two additional pipeline candidates. In August, ImmVira out-licensed Greater China rights for MVR-T3011 to Shanghai Pharma in an agreement worth up to $176 million.
A Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine with an inactivated virus mechanism was 79% effective in a Phase III test, which was conducted outside of China (see story). The positive results reflected an early interim analysis of the data, though few details of the trial, such as the number of participants, were released. The two mRNA vaccines approved for use in the US and UK surprised experts with their 95% efficacy. Before those stellar results, any vaccine that protected more than 50% of subjects was expected to be competitive.
Shanghai Fosun Pharma (SHA: 600196; HK: 02196) will form a JV with its German partner BioNTech to manufacture COVID-19 vaccine in China (see story). In March, Fosun acquired China rights to BioNTech's mRNA vaccine in a $135 million deal that included a $50 million Fosun investment in BioNTech. Under the agreement, Fosun agreed to purchase 100 million doses of the vaccine for China use. Now, the JV will follow that up by initially purchasing bulk ingredients from BioNTech to fill and finish, and then making vaccines itself in a facility with a 200 million dose capacity.
Government and Regulatory
China has added 119 new therapies to its National Reimbursement Drug List after drugmakers from China and the rest of the world accepted price reductions of 51% to be included (see story). Although the price cuts were painful, they were 10% less severe than last year. The negotiations took longer than expected. The additions to the NRDL include three PD-1 inhibitors from China biopharmas, bringing the total to four. PD-1 products from BeiGene, Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine and Shanghai Junshi Biosciences join an Innovent PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor, the first China-developed offering in the category.
Trials and Approvals
Hutchison China MediTech (Chi-Med) (NSDQ/AIM: HCM) announced surufatinib was approved in China to treat non-pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) (see story). Surufatinib has a dual mechanism, inhibiting angiogenesis and promoting tumor-associated macrophages. Chi-Med expects it will have synergistic effects when paired with other immunotherapies. Surufatinib, which will be marketed in China under the brand name Sulanda®,is the second Chi-Med product to reach commercialization. The first was fruquintinib in 2018, marketed as Elunate®, a treatment for colorectal cancer.
Beijing InnoCare Pharma (HK: 09969) reported China's NMPA approved its BTK inhibitor for three indications: chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL) and mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) (see story). All three indications are for patients who have relapsed or refractory forms of the disease. Orelabrutinib will be the first InnoCare candidate to be commercialized. Earlier this year, InnoCare completed a $288 million IPO in Hong Kong that valued the company at $1 billion.
Ascletis (HK: 1672) of Hangzhou announced its Gannex subsidiary dosed the first person in a US Phase I trial of ASC42, its NASH treatment (see story). ASC42 is a Farnesoid X Receptor (FXR) agonist. The trial is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, single and multiple dose escalation study designed to evaluate safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics (biomarkers - FGF19 and C4) of ASC42 in healthy subjects. Ascletis described the candidate as a novel non-steroidal, selective and potent FXR agonist, with Fast Track designation from the US FDA for NASH.