Week In Review: CStone Pharma To Develop Novel Drugs For China With $150 Million In Startup Capital

by: ChinaBio Today

Deals and Financings

CStone Pharma, a Shanghai-Suzhou startup, closed a $150 million Series A round to license novel drugs. The company will seek products that address China needs, with a special emphasis in immuno-oncology along with products for cardiovascular diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, hematology and autoimmune diseases. Three China-based firms - Oriza Seed Venture Capital, Boyu Capital, and WuXi Healthcare Ventures - invested the capital. The company said it would use the money to accelerate multiple programs into the clinic and gain rights to innovative products, first for China and ultimately the world. Apparently, the company has already acquired products, though no details were provided.

Medbanks Network Technology of Beijing, a company building a China oncology database, raised $30 million in a B round led by Tencent (OTCPK:TCEHY). Established in 2014, Medbanks is developing a multi-center database that will manage and mine data that reflects China's unique patient population. It already covers the most prevalent China tumor types. The company said it will use the new capital to expand its clinical network and the database itself. Existing investors Eight Roads Ventures China, F-Prime Capital Partners and Ping An Ventures also participated in the round.

ASLAN Pharma of Singapore raised $23 million in a pre-IPO financing round. The company is currently developing four immunotherapies and targeted agents for tumor types prevalent in Asia. According to media reports, the IPO will be held in Asia (possibly Taipei) or the US, and could take place as early as this year. ASLAN has raised over $100 million to date. The company's lead drug, varlitinib, is a pan-HER inhibitor currently in three separate Phase II trials.

Alibaba Health Information Technology, the online healthcare subsidiary of Alibaba (NYSE: BABA), has made another foray into China online drug sales by acquiring Wuqiannian Medicine. Wuqiannian owns a license to sell its own OTC drugs and TCM products on the internet. Ali Health paid $2.5 million for the company, which also operates a chain of drug stores. Wuqiannian was granted a five-year license in 2015 to sell its OTC drug products over the internet. Earlier this year, China's government shut down an Ali Health website, Yao.tmall.com, which was a third-party site selling OTC drug products.

Dehaier Medical Systems (NASDAQ: DHRM) of Beijing has partnered with China Sciences Group to distribute its sleep apnea medical devices through China Sciences' elder care cloud-based health management platform. The Hui Kang platform uses an "Internet + Medical Support" business model. Earlier this year, Dehaier jettisoned much of its product portfolio and raised $20 million to concentrate on sleep apnea products.

Trials and Approvals

BeiGene (NASDAQ: BGNE), a Beijing novel cancer biopharma, has dosed the first patient in a Phase I trial that combines a targeted BTK inhibitor with a PD-1 immuno-oncology antibody. BeiGene developed both molecules in-house. The trial, which will enroll 25 patients with B-cell lymphoid malignancies, will be conducted in Australia. BeiGene has another combination trial already underway. The earlier trial pairs the PD-1 immuno-oncology drug with a PARP inhibitor.

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