Deals and Financings
Shanghai ChemPartner, a CRO/CMO, closed its reverse merger with Quantum Hi-Tech China Biological (SZE:300149) for a combination of cash and stock. ChemPartner said it will have easier access to additional capital as a listed entity. Quantum makes probiotics for packaged foods, and its operations will remain separate from ChemPartner's. The merger was first announced over a year ago, though terms of the agreement have not been disclosed. All of ChemPartner's CRO/CMO operations will become part of Quantum.
YiChang HEC ChangJiang Pharm (HK:1558) raised $400 million from Blackstone Group (NYSE:BX) in a convertible bond offering. The bonds will pay 3%. HEC Pharm, based in YiChang in central China's Hubei province, will use the funds to acquire additional drugs and other pharmaceutical products. Blackstone will help HEC Pharm in its M&A pursuit and also advise the company on improving strategy, operations and international cooperation.
The Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Insilico Medicine and Juvenescence have joined together to form a fourth company, Napa Therapeutics (see story). Napa will develop anti-aging drugs against a NAD+ target discovered in the labs of Eric Verdin, President and CEO of the Buck Institute, an independent research center located in Novato, CA. Insilico is a company that uses AI to develop better drugs more quickly. In June, it announced a funding round led by WuXi AppTec (SHA:603259). Insilico could earn more than $100 million in milestone payments from Napa if the program is successful.
Haisco Pharma (SHZ:002653) invested $10 million in North Carolina's Pneuma Respiratory in return for China rights to Pneumahaler™, a breath-activated digital inhaler intended for asthma and COPD. Initially, Pneuma intends to use the device to deliver off-patent medications, but the company believes the Pneumahaler will eventually prove to be an effective delivery tool for biologic medications. According to Pneuma, the device combines advanced droplet ejector technology with digitally controlled breath-actuation.
Crown Biosciences, a global CRO, in-licensed rights to translational platforms from Shanghai Model Organisms Center (SMOC). The genetically engineered mouse models include proprietary transgenic and reporter models for oncology, cardiovascular and immunology research. SMOC said the agreement will make its products available globally. In December 2017, CrownBio was acquired by JSR Corporation of Japan for $400 million. The CRO has facilities in China, the US, the UK and Taiwan.
Adlai Nortye, a Hangzhou biopharma that describes itself as "science-driven," opened a Boston site that will serve as the target validation and translational medicine center of the company. The center will be in charge of developing new cancer treatments, especially clinical-stage immuno-oncology candidates. Adlai Nortye expects its Boston operations will help it form more partnerships with global biopharmas. The company is developing cancer immunotherapies and treatments for metabolic disease.
Trials and Approvals
Sirnaomics of Maryland was approved to start US trials of its anti-cancer/anti-fibrosis siRNA (small interfering RNA) therapeutic in patients with advanced cholangiocarcinoma (CCA). Sirnaomics has facilities in Suzhou and Guangzhou. STP705 works by silencing both TGF-β1 and COX-2 gene expression within the liver. CCA is the second most common hepatic primary malignancy and more common in Asia than the west. It is also known as bile duct adenocarcinoma and biliary tract cancer. Five-year survival ranges from 2% to 30%.
Sihuan Pharma (HK:0460) started a China Phase II Trial of pirotinib, a novel EGFR treatment for cancer, in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The company conducted the earlier Phase I trial in the US. Sihuan, which claims to be the largest cardio-cerebral vascular drug maker in China, developed the candidate through its own R&D efforts. Sihuan was the first China biopharma to privatize from an ex-China exchange and then re-list in China, raising $741 million in a 2010 Hong Kong IPO.
CANbridge Life Sciences, a Beijing in-licensing company, was approved to start a China Phase Ib/III clinical study of CAN017 in esophageal squamous cell cancer (ESCC) (see story). CANbridge in-licensed global rights (ex-North America) to the candidate from Aveo Pharma (NASDAQ:AVEO) two years ago in a $134 million deal. The trial acceptance triggers a $2 million milestone payment to Aveo. Earlier this year, CANbridge started China trials of CAN008, a treatment for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).
Loncar launched its China BioPharma ETF (NASDAQ:CHNA), a fund that gives international investors access to a diversified portfolio of China-based innovative biopharmas (see story). The exchange-traded-fund currently holds 28 companies, made up of China-centered biopharmas that are traded in Hong Kong (22) and on the NASDAQ exchange (6). The fund mirrors the Loncar China BioPharma Index, which was announced in March of this year. The fund's three largest holdings are WuXi Biologics (OTCPK:WXXWY), Shanghai Fosun Pharma (OTCPK:FOSUY) and Sino Biopharmaceuticals.
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