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Week in Review: Suzhou Innovent Announces $2 Billion Immunotherapy Collaboration with Roche
Deals and Financings
Suzhou Innovent Bio (HK: 01801) formed a far-reaching R&D collaboration with Roche that has a potential value of over $2 billion (see story). Innovent will use Roche's technologies to discover and develop specific 2:1 T-cell bispecific antibodies (TCB) and universal CAR-T therapies for hematological and solid cancers. Innovent will make upfront and milestone payments for the rights, and it will develop the candidates. Roche will have an option to license each product for ex-China development and commercialization. If Roche exercises all of its options, it will pay $140 million for the options plus $1.96 billion in milestones if all products are successfully commercialized.
Simcere Pharma of Nanjing has filed with the Hong Kong Exchange for an IPO that is rumored to seek $500 million (see story). Previously, Simcere was listed in the US, but it was taken private in 2013 for $500 million by management and Hony Capital. The company is an active dealmaker, using partnerships and in-house R&D to build a portfolio of nearly 50 novel candidates in development. In 2019, the company's ten generic products produced a profit of $140 million on $708 million in revenue.
Burning Rock Biotech (NSDQ: BRN) of Guangzhou, a company that offers precision medicines cancer testing, completed a $223 million IPO on the NASDAQ (see story). The company placed 13.5 million ADSs at a price of $16.50 each. The ADSs opened 50% higher, giving Burning Rock a market capitalization of $2.5 billion. In addition to its precision medicine business, the company is developing tests for early cancer detection based on next-gen sequencing. It raised an additional $25 million in a private placement at the offering price.
JW Therapeutics, a Shanghai-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, completed a $100 million Series B round financing co-led by CPE and Mirae Asset (see story). JW is a joint venture formed in 2016 by WuXi AppTec and Juno Therapeutics of Seattle that was formed to bring Juno's immunoncology drugs to China. The company's lead product, a CAR-T therapy targeting CD19 for non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, has started Phase II trials in China.
MabPlex International, a biologics CDMO located in Yantai, completed a $71 million Series B financing led by PE firms DT Capital Partners and Huajin Capital (see story). Founded in 2013, MabPlex provides global CDMO services for biopharmaceuticals, including mAbs, recombinant proteins, ADCs and bispecifics. The company offers contract services that range from DNA to finished drug products. Its CHO cell line platform is designed to move candidates quickly through the development process. In early 2019, MabPlex closed a $59 million Series A financing from SDIC Venture Fund and Shenzhen Venture Capital, two state-owned investors.
Clover Biopharmaceuticals, a Chengdu biotech company, announced a $24 million Series B-2 add-on financing from GL Ventures (see story). Clover completed a $43 million Series B round in November 2019. Clover's novel drug development is based on its Trimer-Tag technology that allows production of novel, covalently-trimerized fusion proteins. The company believes trimerization makes it possible to target previously undruggable pathways. Since 2016, Clover has raised over $140 million.
Beijing's CANbridge Pharma formed a research program with the Horae Gene Therapy Center at the UMass Medical School to conduct gene therapy research in rare genetic diseases, focusing on neuromuscular conditions (see story). The program will be directed by Guangping Gao, PhD, Director of the Horae Gene Therapy Center. CANbridge specializes in orphan disease and targeted cancer products. In 2018, it formed a partnership with WuXi Biologics to develop drugs for rare genetic diseases.
Sinopharm reported its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine induced high levels of neutralizing antibodies in animal tests without causing any serious adverse events (see story). The results of the preclinical trials were reported in the journal Cell. The vaccine, developed by a Sinopharm subsidiary, Beijing Institute of Biological Products, contains an inactivated form of the virus. Sinopharm is currently conducting China Phase I/II trials of BBIBP-CorV in three dosing strengths.
Shanghai's Junshi Biosciences (HK: 1877) dosed the first subject in a China Phase I trial of JS016, a SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody (see story). Two months ago, Junshi formed a collaboration with the Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IMCAS) to partner development of the candidate. It then out-licensed ex-China development of JS016 to Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY), which is close to starting US trials. JS016 was identified by screening blood from recovered COVID-19 patients. In preclinical tests, the candidate showed very high specific affinity to the SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain.
Alphamab Oncology (HK: 9966) of Suzhou will partner with Institut Pasteur of Shanghai, Chinese Academy of Sciences to develop a therapeutic antibody for COVID-19 globally (see story). Neutralizing antibodies target proteins on the surface of virus. Because these antibodies inhibit the virus' binding and entry into target cells, they work as a protection against COVID-19 and a treatment for the disease. Mixed antibodies amplify the therapeutic effect and prevent the virus from "escaping" via mutation, the partners said.
Trials and Approvals
GeneQuantum Healthcare of Suzhou received IND approval in the US for its proprietary next-gen antibody drug conjugate asset, GQ1001 (see story). GQ1001 is a novel ADC drug candidate that is aimed at HER2-positive tumors. The candidate was developed using GQ's novel intelligent Ligase-Dependent Conjugation (iLDC) platform including a unique linker. GQ believes the platform will manufacture high quality ADCs in any mAb facility at a speed and yield similar to equivalent mAbs.
Suzhou Alphamab Oncology (HK: 9966) will collaborate with Sanofi (EURONEXT: SAN; NSDQ: SNY) to test a combination of KN026, Alphamab's anti-HER2 bispecific mAb, together with Sanofi's Taxotere® (Docetaxel) in HER2+ breast cancer (see story). Sanofi will have a period of exclusivity to negotiate in-licensing rights for KN026. KN026 is an anti-HER2 bispecific antibody that binds two non-overlapping epitopes of HER2 and leads to a dual HER2 signal blockade. Alphamab has begun several clinical trials of the candidate in China and the US, including a combination study with Taxotere.