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Week in Review: LianBio to Close Operations; Will Pay $528 Million to Shareholders

publication date: Feb 17, 2024
author/source: Richard Daverman, PhD

Company News

LianBio, a Princeton-Shanghai biotech, has decided to call it quits. The company said its best option for the future is to close all its operations (see story). Founded four years ago, LianBio emerged from Perceptive Advisors, a New York City company that invested in biopharmas and has $9.5 billion in assets under management. Perceptive, which wanted to participate in China’s drug development scene, formed LianBio to in-license drugs, mainly from its portfolio companies, and bring them to China/Asia. LianBio plans to stop all its operations by the end of 2024 and will distribute a $4.80 dividend/share ($528 million) to its shareholders. 

Yiviva, a New York biotech, signed a memorandum of understanding with AstraZeneca China for an R&D collaboration at AstraZeneca’s Innovation Campus (iCampus) in Chengdu (see story). The company develops systems biology medicines that treat aging-related diseases based on a combination of traditional Chinese medicine and western technology. Yiviva’s STAR (signal transduction, activity and response) drug discovery platform identifies botanical therapeutics that influence immune function, inflammatory responses, cell growth, metabolic functions and hormone activity. Yiviva has discovered six first-in-class drug candidates to treat cancer and inflammatory diseases. 

Trials and Approvals

Tokyo’s Chugai Pharma announced China approval of crovalimab, a humanized complement inhibitor C5 mAb to treat paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) (see story).  It is the first approval of crovalimab anywhere in the world. A rare disease, PNH is an acquired life-threatening blood disease, characterized by the destruction of red blood cells, blood clots and impaired bone marrow function. Crovalimab uses Chugai’s Recycling Antibody technology, which allows a mAb to bind repeatedly to an antigen, enabling sustained complement inhibition at a low dose. Switzerland’s Roche owns 62% of Chugai. 

CASI Pharma, a Maryland-Beijing company, launched Folotyn® (Pralatrexate Injection), a dihydrofolate reductase inhibitor aimed at relapsed or refractory peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL) (see story). In August 2023, CASI acquired China distribution rights to the drug, a long-time therapy for the indication in the west, from Mundipharma International. The drug was approved for China use as a first-line therapy in 2020 for PTCL. CASI acquires and develops therapies for hematological cancers in China. The company’s website lists five candidates in current development. 

AusperBio, a Hangzhou-San Francisco biopharma, reported its lead candidate, AHB-137, an unconjugated antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) that targets all HBV RNA, is advancing through clinical trials in China and the US (see story). The company believes AHB-137 will prove to be a functional cure for chronic hepatitis B. The candidate is a product of AusperBio’s proprietary Med-OligoTM ASO platform, which the company expects will produce more effective therapies than available ASO offerings. Currently, two Phase Ia/Ib clinical trials, one in China and the other in the US/New Zealand, have dosed 122 participants, including 30 CHB patients. 

Disclosure: none.



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