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Week in Review: Full-Life Acquires Focus-X and its Eight Radioherapeutics in $245 Million Deal
Deals and Financings
Full-Life Technologies, a year-old Brussels-Shanghai radiotherapeutics company, will acquire New Jersey’s Focus-X Therapeutics for up to $245 million (see story). Using its proprietary peptide engineering technology. Focus-X has built a portfolio of eight radiopharmaceuticals targeting various cancers. Its lead assets are a prostate specific membrane antigen (PMSA)-targeted peptide for advanced prostate cancer and a neurotensin receptor type 1 (NTSR1)-targeted peptide for pancreatic cancer. Focus-X shareholders will receive an upfront payment, up to $245 million in milestones plus royalties on sales.
India’s Gland Pharma, a majority owned CDMO subsidiary of Fosun Pharma (SHA: 600196; HK: 2196), will expand its geographical footprint by paying $124 million to acquire France’s Cenexi Group (see story). Both companies focus on CDMO services for injectable products. Founded in 2004, Cenexi offers CDMO services with expertise in sterile liquid and lyophilized fill-finished drugs, including oncology and complex products. In 2017, Fosun paid $1.1 billion for a 74% stake in Gland. Now, Fosun owns 58% of Gland, which has a market cap of $3.8 billion.
Shanghai Pediatrix Therapeutics in-licensed greater China rights to an immuno-inflammatory disease candidate from Pennsylvania’s Aclaris (NSDQ: ACRS) in a $96 million deal (see story). Aclaris’s ATI-1777 is a “soft” Janus kinase 1/3 inhibitor that aims to lower systemic exposure to the drug. Pediatrix will own commercialization and manufacturing rights for any disease, including atopic dermatitis and for any age group. Pediatrix has a portfolio of more than 10 products for dermatology, neurology, neonatology, allergy and immunology indications.
Rgenta Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Mass. company developing RNA drugs for currently unavailable targets, closed a $52 million Series A round from mostly China investors (see story). The company is building a portfolio of oncology and neurology candidates. Its discovery platform analyzes large amounts of human genomics data to identify targetable RNA processing events and then it designs small-molecule glues to modulate the interactions between the spliceosome, regulatory proteins and RNA. The A Round was led by AZ-CICC Healthcare Investment Fund, a Joint Venture between AstraZeneca and China’s CICC Capital.
Shandong Boan Biotech, a subsidiary of Yantai’s Luye Pharma (HK: 2186), plans to stage an IPO on the Hong Kong Exchange (see story). The company was formed by Luye in 2013, but in 2018, Luye acquired Boan at a rumored price of $205 million, implying some outside ownership. Luye had already in-licensed four of Boan’s biosimilars. Currently, Boan has one marketed product, an Avastin biosimilar. The company develops therapeutic antibodies for oncology, metabolism, autoimmunity and ophthalmology indications along with two COVID therapies in China clinical trials. Altogether, Boan is advancing seven novel antibody products and five biosimilars.
Biocytogen Pharma (Beijing) (HK: 02315) signed an option agreement with Switzerland’s ADC Therapeutics granting ADC a license to evaluate Biocytogen’s antibodies against three tumor targets (see story). ADC will have an option to license any of the antibodies for global ADC development and commercialization. Biocytogen is using its proprietary platform to develop first-in-class and/or best-in-class antibody candidates for more than 1000 targets, So far, the effort has resulted in 28 drug co-development and 16 RenMiceTM licensing agreements with drug development companies, including several multinational pharmas.
Hong Kong’s XtalPi, an AI drug discovery company, formed a strategic collaboration with CK Life Sciences (HK: 0755) to develop a novel AI therapeutic tumor vaccine R&D platform (see story). The two companies will pool their expertise with the goal of developing novel vaccine types for therapeutic tumor vaccines, which they expect will be precision treatments. Headquartered in Suzhou, CK Life Science is a member of the CK Hutchison Group with interest in pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and animal health products.
Trials and Approvals
Shanghai Henlius Biotech (HK: 2696) dosed the first patient in a US bridging trial that compares its anti-PD-1 candidate to the standard of care in patients with SCLC (see story). Earlier this week, Lilly announced it has returned global rights (ex-China) for its PD-1 candidate, Tyvyt, to its partner Suzhou Innovent (HK: 01801) after the US FDA refused to approve the drug for NSCLC. In 2015, Lilly acquired ex-China rights to Tyvyt in a landmark $1 billion deal ($200 million upfront). Innovent was paid the $200 million but no milestones. Lilly continues to partner China rights to the PD-1, where it is approved for six indications.
Shanghai Lyvgen Biopharma announced plans to start a China Phase II combination trial of LVGN7409 and Bristol Myers Squibb’s Opdivo (nivolumab), a PD-1 drug (see story). The trial will enroll patients with advanced/metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Lyvgen’s next-gen CD40 agonistic monoclonal antibody is designed to induce T cell by increasing tumor antigen presentation and activate the tumor microenvironment. Lyvgen’s proprietary xLinkAb platform generates agonistic antibodies designed to produce immunostimulatory activity localized in tumors.
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