Deals and Financings
Columbia Pacific Management, an Asia healthcare provider based in Seattle, formed a 50/50 JV with Temasek to build healthcare facilities in China. Temasek is the sovereign wealth fund of Singapore. The JV, Columbia China, is the China division of Columbia Pacific. Columbia China already owns hospitals, clinics and senior living facilities in China, and it has more under construction. Temasek will invest $250 million into the JV for its 50% stake. With the money, Columbia China will add to its development projects.
Luye Medical (HK: 2186) of Yantai, China, offered to pay $91 million to acquire Australia's Pulse Medical, a company that operates eleven hospital facilities. The bid was a 42% premium to the previous closing price. Luye Medical, a division of Luye Pharma, is actively buying healthcare assets. It previously paid $688 million to acquire Healthe Care Australia, the third largest hospital chain in the country. And it recently signed an MOU to invest $300 million operate a large healthcare complex being built by the Jiangbei District of Chongqing.
Veritas Genetics, a Boston-Hangzhou affordable genetics testing company, raised $30 million from China-connected investors. Veritas offers a $999 complete genomic screen, which is delivered to smartphones, plus the myBRCA and ovarian cancer non-invasive tests for cancer predisposition along with prenatal tests. The round was led by Trustbridge Partners, a Boston-Shanghai growth investor, and Jiangsu Simcere Pharma plus Lilly Asia Ventures.
Quark Venture and China's GF Securities Company (HK: 01776; SHZ: 000776) announced a $500 million global health sciences venture fund based in Vancouver. Quark manages clinical trials in Polish CROs and invests Polish investment funds in US-listed life sciences companies. The fund seems likely to emphasize investments in Canadian innovative biotechnology and health sciences companies, though its ultimate focus is global. Following its initial $100 million closing, Quark has already begun making investments.
Zai Lab of Shanghai in-licensed global rights to two anti-inflammatory candidates from GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK). Zai did not disclose many details about the assets, which target multiple anti-inflammatory indications, except to say that one is in a Phase II trial and the other in pre-clinical development. Zai's rights to the drugs include global commercialization. Zai already has two other molecules for anti-inflammation in clinical development, one targets asthma/COPD, the other targets graft-versus-host/irritable bowel syndrome.
FMD K&L, a US-China clinical CRO, announced plans to merge with iMEDGlobal, a US-India pre-clinical CRO. The two companies said their complementary services and geographical focuses, plus operational synergies, would make a stronger company. FMD K&L was also formed by a merger: in 2014, Fountain Medical Development of Beijing combined its China-Southeast Asia clinical operations with K&L, a US company specializing in data management and regulatory submissions. FMD remains the parent while FMD K&L is the subsidiary.
Trials and Approvals
Hua Medicine of Shanghai announced positive results from a China Phase II trial of a treatment for type 2 diabetes. HMS5552 is a fourth generation glucokinase activator (GKA). Hua pointed out that the trial was the first time a GKA drug was successful as a monotherapy. Also, the fourth generation drug uses a novel scaffold to avoid hypoglycemic episodes, which plagued earlier versions of GKA treatments, and does not appear to lose efficacy as occurred with other class members. Hua hopes to start a China Phase III trial of HMS6662 in early 2017.
MicuRx Pharma has started enrolling patients in a pivotal China Phase III trial of MRX-I, its oral antibiotic for complicated skin and skin structure infections (cSSSI). MicuRx, a San Francisco-Shanghai pharma, positions MRX-I as a next-generation oxazolidinone that will treat infections caused by multi-drug resistant gram-positive bacteria. MicuRx expects MRX-I will prove non-inferiority to linezolid with a better side effect profile. The company says cSSSI infections are often drug resistant.
TLC (TT: 4152), a Taiwan novel drug maker, was granted Orphan Drug designation in the US for TLC178, an oral drug that targets cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. Lymphoma is one of the most common forms of blood cancer, and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma is a common T-cell lymphoma. Two weeks ago, TLC was approved to begin US trials of TLC178. TLC178, a lipid-encapsulated form of vinorelbine, is a targeted form of the chemotherapy that is designed to increase efficacy and lower toxicity.
CStone Pharma, a young Shanghai-Suzhou startup, reported that its application for clinical trials of a recombinant PD-L1 antibody was accepted for review by the CFDA. According to CStone, the candidate (WBP3155) is China's first innovative, fully humanized, full-length original format Immunoglobulin G (IgG) mAb candidate. WBP3155 was produced by the OMT platform, which suggests a connection with WuXi AppTec. WuXi in-licensed rights to the OMT platform for mAb discovery. In July, CStone raised $150 million in an A round from three China investors including WuXi Healthcare Ventures.
TOT BIOPHARM of Suzhou broke ground on Phase II of its production facility in Suzhou Industrial Park. The addition, which will comprise 140,000 square feet of floor space, will be dedicated to biologic drugs, including biosimilars, monoclonal antibody drugs and antibody-drug conjugates. The facility's Phase I construction was completed in 2012 and devoted to small-molecule cancer drugs. TOT, founded in 2010, develops difficult-to-make drugs and affordable cancer products aimed at China's needs.