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Week in Review: China Biopharma Books $500 Million of Deals to Start 2022

publication date: Jan 8, 2022
author/source: Richard Daverman, PhD

Deals and Financings

Shanghai AffaMed acquired greater China rights to an ophthalmic drug from Korea's Hanmi Pharma in an $145 million agreement (see story). AffaMed will have rights to manufacture, develop and commercialize risuteganib (Luminate®), a first-in-class intravitreal injectable product that targets intermediate Dry Age-related Macular Degeneration and other vitreo-retinal diseases. Hanmi will receive $6 million upfront plus milestones and royalties. In 2020, CBC Group merged two of its portfolio companies, AffaMed and EverInsight Therapeutics, into a single entity under the AffaMed name.  

Sperogenix Therapeutics, a Beijing rare disease company, in-licensed China rights to vamorolone for rare disease indications from Switzerland's Santhera in a deal valued at up to $124 million, plus royalties (see story). Initially, Sperogenix will develop the drug in China for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disease. Santhera is conducting US tests of the drug, with plans to start a rolling submission in Q1 of 2022. In 2019, Sperogenix was formed by Lilly Asia Ventures and Morningside Venture Capital to bring rare diseases therapies to China.  

Xuanzhu Biopharm, a subsidiary of Sihuan Pharm (HK: 0460), completed a $96 million Series B financing to develop novel drugs for China (see story). The financing follows an even larger $152 million Series A that closed in 2020. Nearly ten years old, Xuanzhu has built a 400 member team led by oversea returnee scientists. It has independent R&D capabilities that are not dependent on in-licensings or CROs. The company, which develops small molecule and biologic drugs, has developed a portfolio of more than 25 candidates, including two NDA stage products. The B round was led by Sunshine Life Insurance Company.  

Accro Bioscience (Suzhou) raised more than $50 million in an oversubscribed Series B round to develop products based on the molecular mechanism of regulated cell death (see story). Its portfolio of China Class 1.1 candidates include products for inflammatory, autoimmune and cancer indications. The company's research focuses on necroptosis, pyroptosis and ferroptosis, which are associated with major human diseases. The B round was led by Hongtai Aplus. Also participating were South China Venture apital, Shenzhen Capital Group and Suzhou Oriza Holdings.   

Jiangsu Atom Bioscience closed a $45 million Series C financing to support a global Phase III clinical trial of ABP-671, its lead small molecule drug for hyperuricemia and gout, along with preclinical/clinical development of other pipeline products (see story). The company develops novel small molecule candidates for inflammatory and metabolic diseases such as chronic gout and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. To date, Atom has raised a total of $87 million. The Series C was led by Xicheng Jinrui Equity Investment Fund and ShenZen GTJA Investment Group.  

Shanghai Nuance Pharma acquired Sino Health Pharmaceutical together with two of its subsidiaries in a deal worth "multi hundred million RMB" -- at least $32 million (see story). Sino Health has three commercial stage products and a candidate under NDA review in China, plus a sales force of over 100 people. Nuance expects the acquisition to increase its presence in emergency care and retail sales, while also adding to its sales and distribution network. Nuance offers high-quality products and services that address unmet China medical needs.  

Shanghai Junshi Bio (HK: 1877: SHA: 688180) formed a collaboration with Singapore's DotBio to develop next-gen antibody therapies (see story). Junshi in-licensed a DotBody module, which it will use to discover several multi-specific antibodies. DotBody's proprietary technology combines prefabricated antibody modules that have specific functions. DotBio says the technology builds multi-functional antibodies quickly, improving antibody quality and increasing their rate of success. DotBio will be receive upfront and milestone payments, as well as royalties. DotBio previously signed a licensing deal with Suzhou's CStone Pharma (HK: 2616).  

Company News 

Chengdu Clover Biopharma (HK: 02197) started construction of a Shanghai R&D Center to develop novel vaccines and biologic therapies (see story). The facility, which will be built on  25,000 square meters of land, will contain a state-of-the-art preclinical research laboratory, manufacturing process development labs and a GMP pilot manufacturing plant. The facility will be located in Zhangjiang Biotech and Pharmaceutical Industrial Base in Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park. Clover also announced the start of clinical trials of a booster shot of its COVID-19 vaccine following two original doses.  

Trials and Approvals 

Akeso (HK: 09926), a Hangzhou biopharma, was approved to start a China Phase Ib/II trial of a dual PD-1-based bi-specific therapy for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) (see story). The therapy will combine cadonilimab (PD-1/CTLA-4 bi-specific antibody), a first-in-class novel immunotherapy developed by Akeso, with ivonescimab (PD-1/VEGF bi-specific antibody), another Akeso candidate. Akeso said the trial is the world's first study of two combined bi-specific antibodies. Cadonilimab is already under review in China as a second-line therapy for cervical cancer.  

Suzhou CStone Pharma (HK: 2616) was approved to start a US Phase I trial of an ADC targeting receptor tyrosine kinase-like orphan receptor 1 (ROR1) (see story). ROR1 is an oncofetal protein with low or no expression in adult tissues but high expression in various leukemias and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, breast, lung and ovarian cancers. The candidate, CS5001, will be one of the three ROR1 ADCs globally to start clinical trials. In 2020, CStone acquired global rights (ex-Korea) to CS5001 from LegoChem Bio (KOSDAQ: 141080)in a $363 million deal, plus royalties.  

Disclosure: none. 


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