Deals and Financings
Mevion Medical Systems, a Boston area maker of proton therapy machines, closed a $150 million financing led by YuanMing Capital with participation by other China-based private equity investors. Mevion said the financing provides the company with growth capital, clears existing debt and "optimizes" the shareholder structure. The company believes its proton systems offer a smaller footprint, lower operating costs and improved clinical performance for cancer care.
Shanghai Kinetic Medical (SHZ: 300326) will acquire Elliquence LLC, a US medical device maker, for $77 million. Elliquence makes radiofrequency products that are used in minimally invasive orthopedic surgeries, especially for disc herniation and intervertebral disc tear. About 52% of Elliquence's revenues are from China. Kinetic Medical, which plans to gradually take over distribution of Elliquence's products, also makes minimally invasive surgical systems, especially for orthopedic surgeries, plus orthopedic implants and stents.
Shunwei Capital (HK: 0656) and DCM Ventures led a $65.7 million C round in Yaoshibang, a Guangzhou online pharmacy trading and education platform. Founded in 2015, Yaoshibang is a B2B trading site for pharmaceuticals. It also provides educational services, a database of diseases and drugs, and career services to pharmacists. In 2016, Yaoshibang raised $16 billion in a B round led by Green Pine Capital Partners and Fosun Group, the parent of Fosun Pharma (SHA: 600196; HK: 02196).
WuXi Biologics (HK: 2269) will invest $60 million to build a state-of-the-art biologics CDMO operation in the greater Boston area, the fourth new manufacturing project WuXi has announced in the last two months. The four most recent projects, representing a total investment of $792 million, are: Ireland ($392 million), Northern China ($240 million), Singapore ($60 million) and now Wooster, Mass, ($60 million), the eleventh CDMO facility in the company's portfolio. The new plants offer geographical diversity. Previously, WuXi Biologics built facilities in Shanghai and WuxiCity.
Aptose Biosciences (NSDQ: APTO; TSX: APS) of San Diego has added greater China to its in-licensing deal for a leukemia candidate discovered by Korea's CrystalGenomics (KOSDAQ: 083790). Aptose paid $3 million upfront and agreed to additional milestones along with a single-digit royalty on sales, totaling up to $125 million. CG-806 is a novel pre-clinical small molecule treatment for acute myeloid leukemia. In 2016, Aptose signed an $303 million option agreement for CG-806, excluding China and Korea. Last month, Aptose exercised that option ahead of schedule.
WuXi AppTec's (SHA: 603259) Corporate Venture Fund led a financing in Insilico Medicine, a Baltimore artificial intelligence company specializing in target identification, drug discovery and aging research. WuXi plans to integrate Insilico's AI technology into its own CRO drug discovery offerings. The investment is conditional upon experimental validation of Insilico's Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN) and Reinforcement Learning (RL)-based drug discovery pipeline. The size of the financing was not disclosed.
Trials and Approvals
Ascletis Pharma of Hangzhou reported that its lead drug, Ganovo (danoprevir), an innovative treatment for hepatitis C, was approved by the CFDA. Ganovo is the first direct-acting anti-viral agent (DAA) developed by a China company to be approved. Ganovo works by inhibiting the NS3/4A protease that is critical to HCV replication. Ascletis plans to combine Ganovo with another of its candidates, ravidasir, to offer an all-oral HCV treatment with a near-100% cure rate. One month ago, Ascletis filed to stage an IPO on the Hong Kong exchange.
The China National Drug Administration (CNDA) has approved Opdivo, the first PD-1 drug approved in China. A Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) drug, Opdivo is approved as a second-line treatment for advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer following platinum-based chemotherapy in adults. Opdivo improved survival rate over chemotherapy by 32% in a Phase III trial in which 90% of the patients were from China. The trial was stopped early because of Opdivo's efficacy.
CStone Pharma of Suzhou has begun pivotal Phase II studies of its lead drug, a PD-L1 antibody, in two rare forms of lymphoma: natural killer cell/T-cell lymphoma and classical Hodgkin's lymphoma. The two trials will test for efficacy and safety. According to CStone, CS1001 is China's first fully human, full-length, IgG4 based anti-PD-L1 monoclonal antibody, an IO drug that was independently developed by CStone. The first patients have been dosed the two trials.
Everest Medicines, a US-China startup that in-licenses drugs for China's market, filed an IND to start a Phase III clinical trial of eravacycline in complicated intra-abdominal infections (cIAI). In February, Everest acquired greater China rights to eravacycline in a $43.5 million deal ($7 million upfront) from Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals (NSDQ: TTPH) of the US. Founded in 2017, Everest began operations with a $50 million investment from C-Bridge Capital, the first tranche of an initial round expected to raise $130 million.
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