Deals and Financings
WuXi AppTec, China's largest CRO/CMO, acquired Shanghai's HD Biosciences. Founded in 2002, HD Bio is a pre-clinical CRO that specializes in biologic drug discovery. WuXi said HD Bio will strengthen its biologics R&D capability from target validation to lead discovery and optimization. In 2016, HD Bio opened an expanded lab in Shanghai's Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park, and it has a US lab in San Diego. It completed an A venture round in 2008 led by Morningside with Lilly Asian Ventures and Pfizer Venture Investments joining. The financial details of the WuXi-HD Bio acquisition were not disclosed.
New Century Healthcare, a Beijing operator of children's clinics/hospitals and a recently acquired women's hospital, completed a $114 million IPO in Hong Kong. The transaction was priced at the middle of the expected range. The company operates three pediatric clinics in Beijing along with a women's hospital that provides obstetric and gynecological services. It will use the proceeds to expand in Beijing and other tier one China cities.
Tencent (HK: 0700) (OTCPK:TCEHY), the China internet giant, led a $55 million Series D funding in Practo, an Indian mobile healthcare site. In August 2015, Tencent led Practo's $90 Series C round. Through WeChat, Tencent's market-dominating all-purpose app, Tencent also offers O2O healthcare services, and it is using its China experience to help Practo develop a full platform of healthcare services in India, including health insurance. Practo says the new capital will help expand its platform and take it to markets in other developing countries.
Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharma (SHZ: 2603) invested $20 million in HealthWatch, an Israeli company that developed a T-shirt-like wearable monitoring device. Sensors are woven into the fabric and communicate with a pickup device for real-time monitoring. $15 million of the total will be invested into HealthWatch, giving Yiling a 23% stake in the company, and $5 million will pay for China rights to the wearable device. Yiling is known primarily as a TCM company.
RMX Biopharma of Shanghai in-licensed China rights to a next-gen oxazolidinone antibiotic from South Korea's LegoChem Biosciences. RMX will develop, manufacture and market LCB01-0371in China. According to LegoChem, LCB01-0371 has shown improved activity over gram-positive super-bacteria that include MRSA, VRE and MDR-TB. The antibiotic is in early clinical trials. Although details of the agreement were not disclosed, RMX will make upfront and milestone payments, plus royalties.
Renhe Group of Beijing formed a partnership with Switzerland's Applied Pharma Research to distribute Diclofenac, a patented treatment for migraine, in China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. APR's product is a powder for oral solution. So far, migraines are not a major problem in China, but the two companies believe the condition may be under-diagnosed because it is uncommon. Over time, they expect the stresses of an increasingly urban China will also cause greater incidence. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.
Trials and Approvals
The novel rheumatoid arthritis biologic partnered by WuXi AppTec and MedImmune was granted CFDA permission to begin clinical trials. The approval came almost two years after the CFDA accepted the molecule's IND filing. The candidate, WBP216 (MEDI5117), is a novel anti-IL-6 antibody that MedImmune modified for extended duration of action. In China, it is a class 1 innovative biologic. The WuXi-MedImmune China JV, which was set up in 2012, is in charge of developing the drug for China. MedImmune is the biologics arm of AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN).
Shanghai's CloudHealth Genomics launched HealthySeq, a whole genome next generation sequencing (NGS)-based liquid biopsy for healthy individuals. The test establishes a genomic baseline when a person is healthy, facilitating early diagnosis for cancer in later life. Using the results, doctors can stratify the patients for predisposition to disease, screen them regularly and identify the most effective precision therapies.
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