Deals and Financings
OrbiMed filed with the SEC to raise $450 million for its third Asia-focused fund, OrbiMed Asia Partners III. Originally formed in 1989, OrbiMed maintains a strictly life science focus globally, with $13 billion under management and investments from early stage to private and public equity. The company opened offices in Shanghai and Mumbai in 2007 and now runs over $500 million in investments from its first two Asia funds. OrbiMed's Asia II partnership closed in 2014 with $325 million. The company says it considers investments in all sectors of life science, from biopharmaceuticals to medical devices, diagnostics and healthcare services.
Surefire Medical of Colorado, a company developing site-specific microcatheters for delivery of oncology drugs, raised $12.8 million in a D round led by ORI Healthcare Fund of Hong Kong. One of the uses of the new capital will be to start clinical trials and sales of Surefire's medical devices in China. Surefire claims that the expandable tip of its microcatheter increases pressure within the tumor and delivers more drug to the tumor than the competition, while decreasing delivery to surrounding tissue.
Pharmaron, a Beijing CRO, signed a definitive agreement to acquire a majority stake in Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories Clinical Pharmacology Center of Maryland. SNBL CPC, which opened in 2005, provides moderate and highly complex Phase I/II clinical development services in the University of Maryland BioPark. It has completed over 200 studies. Shin Nippon will retain a minority stake in the lab. The Maryland facility will be integrated with Pharmaron's existing US clinical CROs in Louisville, Kentucky and Los Angeles, plus a facility in the UK.
Singapore's ASLAN Pharma formed an R&D collaboration with the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI) and National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (NCIS) to assess the potential of ASLAN003 as a treatment for hematologic cancers. ASLAN originally in-licensed global rights to the molecule as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis from Spain's Almirall Pharma. In early 2016, ASLAN expanded the indications to include cancer. ASLAN has been approved to list on Taiwan's main board, though it hasn't listed as yet.
HitGen Ltd. of Chengdu and Houston signed a license agreement with Cancer Research UK and its commercial arm, Cancer Research Technology (CRT), to develop a novel class of drugs against lung cancer. A drug discovery biotech, HitGen provided several novel molecules for a target identified by Cancer Research. Cancer Research UK's Drug Discovery Unit at The University of Manchester will be responsible for early development. HitGen will be eligible for milestone payments, though further financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.
Trials and Approvals
Hutchison China MediTech (Chi-Med) (NASDAQ:HCM) reported that its lead drug, fruquintinib, met its endpoints in a pivotal Phase III China trial. Fruquintinib was tested as a third-line treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer. Chi-Med, which has partnered the drug with Lilly (NYSE:LLY), is now preparing to file for CFDA approval. The company said fruquintinib met both overall and progression-free survival in the heavily pre-treated patient population, though it is won't release specific results until the mid-2017 ASCO meeting. Fruquintinib, a VEGFR inhibitor, has an anti-angiogenic mechanism.
Kite Pharma (NASDAQ:KITE) of Santa Monica, California posted very positive topline results from a US Phase III trial of its lead CAR-T immunotherapy in patients with chemorefractory B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Two months ago, Fosun Pharma (SHA:600196; HK:02196) and Kite announced a $95 million JV to develop the candidate in China. In the Phase III trial, a single infusion of Kite's axicabtagene ciloleucel produced a complete response in 36% of the patients at the 6-month checkpoint. That compares to an 8% complete response from usual treatments. Kite will complete its NDA filing of the CAR-T therapy in the US during Q1 and in Europe later this year.
CloudHealth Genomics of Shanghai announced a second genomics-based precision medicine test panel, ImmuneSeq Cancer. ImmuneSeq is a 463-gene panel that profiles human response to immunotherapies in all cancer types, with the goal of accelerating drug discovery, therapies and predictive biomarkers. Earlier this year, CloudHealth launched its first panel, HealthySeq, a whole genome next generation sequencing liquid biopsy for healthy individuals. HealthySeq establishes a genomic baseline for an individual and alerts doctors to disease predisposition.