Deals and Financings
Hansoh Pharma, an established drug company headquartered in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, has once again filed for a Hong Kong IPO, which is rumored to seek between $500 million and $1 billion in new capital. In September 2018, Hansoh filed to raise between $1 billion and $3 billion, but the company allowed the application to lapse after six months. Hansoh is a profitable drug company with $1.1 billion in revenue and more than $280 million in profits.
Shiyu Capital of Shenzhen closed its second China life science PE fund with $473 million in capital. The fund, called Danqing Fund II, will invest in pharma/biotech, healthcare, IVD and medical services companies. The Danqing funds aim to participate in the "historic opportunity" of transforming China's pharmaceutical industry. The company's first fund, launched in 2016, raised $164 million. Both funds are RMB denominated. Shiyu Capital, also known as Shenzhen Shiyu Investment Management, was established in 2014.
Beijing's BeiGene (NSDQ: BGNE; HK: 6160) in-licensed a conditionally activated inhibitor of CTLA-4 from BioAtla of San Diego in a $269 million agreement. The two companies will test BA3071 (CAB-CTLA-4) as a monotherapy and in combination with BeiGene's PD-1 candidate, tislelizumab. BioAtla will receive $20 million upfront and is eligible for undisclosed early clinical milestones, plus $249 million in subsequent milestones. BeiGene will own a co-exclusive license with BioAtla to develop and manufacture the candidate, along with an exclusive global commercialization license.
Miracogen, a Shanghai biopharma with clinical-stage antibody drug conjugates, acquired non-exclusive rights to two ADC technologies developed by Dutch biotech Synaffix in a $125 million deal. Synaffix says the two technologies, GlycoConnect and HydraSpace, create ADCs with enhanced efficacy and tolerability. Miracogen, which licensed the technologies for use in its next clinical candidate, will make upfront and potential milestone payments that total $125 million, plus royalties.
Shanghai Fosun Pharma (SHA: 600196; HK: 2196) in-licensed China rights to two cell therapy programs developed by the UK's ReNeuron Group (OTCPK:RNUGF) in a $113 million agreement. Fosun will have rights to develop, manufacture and commercialize ReNeuron's CTX and hRPC cell therapies, both of which are clinical-stage candidates. ReNeuron uses stem cell technologies to develop off-the-shelf stem cell treatments that do not require immunosuppressive drugs. Its CTX cell therapy is aimed at treating the effects of a stroke, and the hRPC cells treat the blindness-causing disease, retinitis pigmentosa.
Creative Biosciences, a Guangzhou cancer screening and cancer diagnostic kit maker, raised $45 million from IDG Capital and CDH Investment in a Series B round. Creative will use the funds to market Colosafe, its early diagnostic kits for colon cancer. The test, which was approved by China's NMPA in late 2018, is based on fecal genetic testing. Creative says Colosafe is priced at less than half the US cost for similar tests, but has a higher detection specificity than its competitors.
Cullgen, a San Diego biotech that develops targeted protein degraders for unmet medical needs, raised $16 million in a Series A financing from two China investors, Sequoia Capital China and Highlight Capital. Cullgen said it would use the proceeds to develop ubiquitin-mediated, small molecule-induced protein degradation products, focusing on treatments for cancer, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The company also plans to discover novel E3 ligands that could become part of a targeted protein degrader complex. In 2018. Cullgen was seeded with $15 million from GNI Group (TOKYO: 2160).
Luqa Pharma, a Shanghai dermatology and aesthetics company, acquired greater China rights to a novel topical antibiotic aimed at impetigo from Barcelona's Ferrer. The two companies will collaborate to obtain China approval of Ozenoxacin (known by trade names Ozanex, Dubine and Xepi), which is already approved in the US and EU. Depending on the outcome of the regulatory process, Luqa could exercise a licensing option for further development and commercialization of Ozenoxacin.
Hope Medicine, a China startup, acquired a global license from Bayer AG (OTCPK:BAYZF) (OTCPK:BAYRY) to develop and commercialize a mAb targeting the PRL receptor as a treatment for male and female pattern hair loss, endometriosis and other chronic diseases with dysregulated PRL signaling. HopeMed was spun out of the lab of Professor Rui-Ping Xiao at the Institute of Molecular Medicine at Peking University. Bayer and IMM collaborated to discover the candidate. HopeMed concurrently completed a Series A funding from Trustbridge Partners and Qi Rui You Kang, a China PE firm.
Shanghai I-Mab Biopharma and Jiangsu Nhwa Pharma (SHZ: 002262) have joined with two western healthcare organizations to develop a novel nasal-delivered immuno-stimulatory therapy for neurological diseases. The collaboration includes the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Biodextris, a Montreal biologics CDMO. The Brigham team will be responsible for preclinical development including biomarkers and early clinical studies. I-Mab and Nhwa will provide financial, technical, regulatory, and business support for R&D and commercial development.
Trials and Approvals
I-Mab Pharma of Shanghai will collaborate with Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY) (OTCQX:RHHBF) to conduct US clinical trials that combine I-Mab's TJD5 candidate with Roche's approved anti-PD-L1 treatment, Tecentriq. I-Mab's TJD5 is a proprietary CD73 antibody that is expected to make checkpoint inhibitors more effective. CD73 is an ecto-enzyme expressed on stromal cells and tumors. It converts extracellular adenosine monophosphate (AMP) to adenosine, which contributes to make the tumor micro-environment more immunosuppressive. In January, I-Mab was granted approval to conduct clinical trials of TJD5 in the US.
Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine (SHA: 600276) and LSK BioPharma were approved to begin US trials of their PD-1-based combination therapy as a first-line treatment for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma. The combination pairs Hengrui's anti-PD-1 mAb (currently under NDA review in China for classic Hodgkin's Lymphoma) with LSKB's rivoceranib, a selective VEGFR-2 inhibitor commonly known as apatinib. The combination produced an objective response rate of 50% and disease control rate of 85.7% in a China Phase I trial.
Shanghai Junshi Bio (HK: 1877) and Ascentage Pharma of Suzhou joined to test a combination of Junshi's approved anti-PD-1 therapy and Ascentage's clinical-stage Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins (IAP), APG-1387. The trial will enroll China patients with solid and hematological tumors. In pre-clinical and early clinical tests, the combination of APG-1387 and a PD-1 immunoncology therapy showed strong antitumor activity. Junshi's Tuoyi (toripalimab) is the first domestically developed PD-1 therapy approved in China.
Editor's Note: The summary bullets for this article were chosen by Seeking Alpha editors.