Deals and Financings
BeiGene (NASDAQ:BGNE) (HKEX:06160) of Beijing announced cancer drug deals worth up to $1.3 billion with Vancouver's Zymeworks (NYSE:ZYME) (see story). BeiGene will acquire Asian rights to two bispecific antibodies from Zymeworks and will have rights to three to-be-discovered bispecific candidates developed by Zymeworks platforms. The two existing candidates target HER2-expressing cancers. The companies agreed to collaborate on global trials for ZW25 and ZW49 in breast and gastric cancers. BeiGene said Zymeworks' cancer candidates are complimentary to its own molecularly-targeted and immunoncology drugs.
WuXi AppTec (SHA:603259), China's largest CRO/CMO, will price its $1 billion IPO in Hong Kong on December 6 and begin trading one week later. The blockbuster event takes place only six months after WuXi completed a $328 million IPO in Shanghai. The company expects to price the IPO at a 19% to 27% discount to its Shanghai shares, where it has a $12 billion market capitalization. The CRO plans to allocate the capital to projects including a Chengdu R&D facility, a San Diego bioanalytical laboratory and unspecified CRO acquisitions.
WuXi NextCODE announced plans for a $400 million genomics database based on sequencing the genomes of 400,000 Irish citizens - 10% of the population. As part of the effort, WuXi will acquire Genomics Medicine Ireland (GMI) of Dublin, which will become its European headquarters. NextCODE also closed a $200 million Series C financing led by Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), which contributed $70 million of the round. Previously, ISIF was the lead shareholder in GMI. The project will eventually add 600 jobs to GMI/NextCODE's Dublin facilities.
Zai Lab (NASDAQ:ZLAB) of Shanghai in-licensed greater China rights to three MacroGenics (NASDAQ:MGNX) immunoncology candidates in an agreement worth up to $165 million (see story). Zai will make an upfront payment of $25 million and be responsible for up to $140 million in milestone payments, plus royalties. MacroGenics, a Maryland company, is a clinical-stage biopharma that discovers innovative monoclonal antibodies for cancer. In addition to developing its own novel products, Zai in-licenses innovative medicines for cancer, autoimmune and infectious diseases for China use.
Shanghai Cell Therapy completed a $40 million Series C1 financing, led by China Industrial Asset Management, which contributed $26 million of the total. Shanghai Cell Therapy is developing oncology drugs based on precision medicine and cell therapy technologies. The company has established the Shanghai Wu Mengchao-Nobel Laureate Joint Medical Technology and Innovation Center. It claims the center has developed over 45 immune cell technologies and been awarded 16 China and two American patents.
Zhejiang Bossan Pharma out-licensed global ex-China rights for its innovative novel epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitor to CBT Pharma of California. CBT plans to test two of its own candidates - a c-Met inhibitor and an anti-PD1 antibody - together with the Bossan EGFR inhibitor, which is currently in a Phase I China trial. CBT has already partnered China rights for the c-Met inhibitor to Beijing Pearl Biotech and the anti-PD1 antibody to Genor Biotech.
I-Mab Biopharma of Shanghai formed a cost-sharing US-development deal with San Diego's Tracon Pharma (NASDAQ:TCON) (see story). The two companies agreed to share US development of I-Mab's TJD5, a CD73 immunotherapy, and up to five unspecified bi-specific candidates. Tracon will be responsible for early development of the assets, while I-Mab will share expenses for later development and commercialization. I-Mab was formed in early 2017 with $150 million in backing from C-Bridge Capital and Tasly Pharma.
Trials and Approvals
The first China-discovered treatment for cancer is now launched. Hutchison China MediTech (Chi-Med) [AIM:HCM] (NASDAQ:HCM) and Lilly (NYSE:LLY) have begun China marketing of Elunate (fruquintinib), a VEGF-inhibitor approved to treat metastatic colorectal cancer. The two companies believe Elunate is a best-in-class VEGF drug. In 2013, Chi-Med and Lilly partnered to co-develop and market the candidate, which was approved by China regulators in September.
Hutchison China MediTech has started four collaborations that will test its VEGFR inhibitors (surufatinib or fruquintinib) in combination with PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors from other biopharmas. Fruquintinib is Chi-Med's first candidate to be approved in China. It was launched earlier this month as a treatment for colorectal cancer. Chi-Med also has a third candidate - savolitinib, a selective c-Met inhibitor - in ongoing studies with AstraZeneca's (NYSE:AZN) checkpoint inhibitor, durvalumab (Imfinzi®).
US-Based Biohaven Pharma (NYSE:BHVN) formed a Shanghai subsidiary, BioShin™, to develop and commercialize its late-stage migraine and neurology portfolio in China and other Asia-Pacific markets. To build its portfolio, Biohaven has combined internal R&D with in-licensings from biopharmas and institutions. Earlier this week, the company filed a US NDA for a sublingual formulation of the ALS drug riluzole as a treatment for migraine.