Deals and Financings
InventisBio of Shanghai closed a $70 million Series C financing co-led by Advantech Capital and CMBI, followed by Pudong Innotek (see story). Founded in 2013, InventisBio focuses on discovering and developing novel therapeutics for cancer and metabolic diseases. The company has close to 30 programs in development, including two under China NDA review. Previously, InventisBio raised $25 million in two venture rounds led by Lilly Asia Venture and OrbiMed Asia, which both participated in the C round.
BGI Genomics (SHZ:300696) of Shenzhen formed a $50 million partnership with US-based Natera (NASDAQ:NTRA) to commercialize Natera's Signatera™ MRD (minimal residual disease) test in China (see story). Natera says Signatera is the first circulating tumor DNA test designed to monitor molecular treatment and assess MRD. The two companies will also work together to develop reproductive health tests in select markets on BGI's sequencing instruments using its DNBseq™ NGS technology platform. Under the 10-year agreement, BGI will pay Natera $50 million, made up of upfront licensing fees, prepaid royalties, and future milestones.
Newsoara Biopharma of Shanghai signed a $26 million agreement with TaiwanJ Pharma that gives Newsoara rights to develop a treatment for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) in Asia (except for Taiwan). The candidate, JKB-122, is a long-acting small molecule TLR4 antagonist that has shown anti-fibrotic, immuno-modulating and anti-inflammatory activity in various chronic liver diseases. JKB-122 is currently in a Phase II trial. TaiwanJ will receive a $2 million upfront payment and up to $24 million in milestones.
Shanghai Changren Information Technology, a China IT health management company, raised $15 million in a Series A funding round led by an unnamed state-owned enterprise, according to press reports. Founded in 2016, Changren provides health management services for individuals and institutions based on its whole life cycle dynamic physiological big data. The company's major product, a home medical robot called "Xiaobao," takes a patient's vital signs at home, transmits them to a cloud platform, and provides medical guidance (medication, diet, and exercise recommendations) through voice broadcasts or short videos.
Yunhu Technology, a Hangzhou company that offers an internet platform for China primary medical services, has secured "tens of millions RMB" in a Series A+ financing. Founded in 2017, Yunhu claims to be China's first internet platform for medical examination that connects with over a thousand local medical institutions. The A+ round was led by China Creation Ventures and joined by existing backers including Vision+ Capital, Morningside Venture Capital, Cash Capital and BioTrack Capital.
HitGen of Chengdu will collaborate with India's Sun Pharma Advanced Research Company (BSE:532872) to discover small molecule leads. HitGen will search its DNA-encoded library of leads, now numbering more than 400 billion novel, diverse, drug-like compounds, to discover lead molecules for SPARC. SPARC will make an upfront payment to HitGen and be responsible for additional milestone payments. HitGen has formed many discovery collaborations with the world's biopharmas, including most recently Biogen (NASDAQ:BIIB), Bayer (OTCPK:BAYRY) and Genentech (OTCQX:RHHBY).
CASI (NASDAQ:CASI), a US-Beijing pharma, out-licensed China marketing rights for Evomela® (melphalan hydrochloride for injection) in China to China Resources Guokang Pharma (see story). In December 2018, Evomela® was approved in China for two multiple myeloma conditions following NMPA priority review. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Previously Melphalan was not available for multiple myeloma patients in China. CASI acquired China rights to the drug from US-based Spectrum in 2014 as part of a three drug deal.
Dr. Zhengqing Li recently joined Ascletis, a Hangzhou company focused on therapeutic areas including anti-viral, cancer and fatty liver diseases, as Chief Medical Officer and President of R&D Greater China. Prior to Ascletis, Dr. Li worked at MSD China from 2011 to last month, where he served as Global Vice President and General Manager of the MSD R&D Center China. During his tenure, he built MSD China into a fully integrated development organization with more than 600 employees that led more than 20 product or new indication approvals in China. In an exclusive interview, Dr. Li spoke with ChinaBio® Today, discussing his path and what's next for Ascletis.
Trials and Approvals
CStone Pharma (Suzhou) (HK:2616) was approved to start a China Phase I trial of its histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6) selective inhibitor. The multi-center, Phase I dose escalation study will be conducted simultaneously in China and Australia in patients with advanced solid tumors and relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma. HDAC6 is the ninth CStone candidate to begin trials in China. At present, there are no other HDAC6 inhibitors approved for China use.
CARsgen Therapeutics, a Shanghai CAR-T company, was approved to start China clinical trials of its fully human BCMA (B-Cell Maturation Antigen) CAR-T cell therapy in patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma (rrMM). In December 2018, CARsgen presented positive early data from the candidate. With 14 patients reporting, the treatment produced a 100% overall response rate (79% were very good or complete responses). CARsgen has developed 11 CAR-T candidates, of which three have started clinical trials and two have filed INDs.
Editor's Note: The summary bullets for this article were chosen by Seeking Alpha editors.