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Abogen Raises a Huge $700 Million for mRNA COVID Vaccine

publication date: Aug 23, 2021
author/source: Richard Daverman, PhD

Suzhou Abogen Biosciences raised over $700 million in a record-breaking Series C round to support a Phase III trial of its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. The company has completed a Phase II trial of the vaccine but hasn't released any data from the trial. The Phase III trial started in May of this year. Abogen is developing ARCoV together with a China military medical research group and Walvax Biotech (SHZ: 300142). The funding was led by seven investors, including Temasek Holdings, Singapore's state-owned investment fund, and Hillhouse-backed GL ventures.

Also leading the round were Invesco Developing Markets Fund, Loyal Valley Capital, Yunfeng Capital, Lilly Asia Ventures and Boyu Capital.

Founded in 2019, Abogen has kept a low profile, making the size of the C round even more surprising. However, Bo Ying, founder of Abogen, co-authored a paper last year that appeared in Cell Press describing a thermostable COVID-19 mRNA vaccine. Dr. Ying has experience in mRNA and previously worked for a Moderna subsidiary.

The company's lipid nanoparticle-encapsulated mRNA vaccine ARCoV remained stable at 25 degrees Celsius for at least seven days. Exposing the vaccine to temperatures of 37 degrees Celsius for seven days resulted in a 13% drop in relative photon flux. This profile makes transportation of the vaccine much easier than similar Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer vaccines.

In June, Shanghai's Stemirna announced a $188 million financing for its China mRNA vaccine, which seemed like a large amount at the time, though the Abogen funding now dwarfs the Stemirna raise. Previously, Abogen raised $93 million in a B round.

So far, China does not have any approved mRNA vaccines for its population, from either domestic or foreign companies, though Fosun Pharma's $200 million JV with BioNTech was formed to bring the latter company's mRNA vaccine to China.

Abogen will also use the funds to advance its other vaccine and oncology programs, while constructing a  manufacturing facility.

Because China has relatively few active cases of COVID. Abogen will probably seek to market its COVID vaccine in other countries. In addition to the patients already enrolled in Mexico and China provinces, Abogen is also considering adding sites in Malaysia, Colombia, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey.

“We are grateful to the strong support from all of our investors,” Abogen CEO Bo Ying said in a statement. “With this new round of financing, we look forward to helping the world fight with the rapidly changing global pandemic by accelerating our COVID-19 vaccine product development, to improving its adaptiveness and to recruiting the best industry talents to support our growth at all levels.”

Disclosure: none.




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