publication date: Sep 18, 2021
author/source: Richard Daverman, PhD
Deals and Financings
Shanghai Everest Medicines (HK 1952) in-licensed a BTK inhibitor for renal diseases from Suzhou Sinovent and SinoMab Bio (HK: 3681) in a $561 million deal (see story). The candidate is a next-gen covalent reversible BTK inhibitor that has shown high selectivity, excellent pharmacokinetics, robust target engagement and a good safety profile in a Phase I China trial conducted by SinoMab. Everest will pay Sinovent and SinoMab $12 million upfront and up to $549 million in milestones, plus royalties. Everest will own full manufacturing rights along with development and commercialization rights.
Shanghai Everest Medicines announced a $500 million two-part deal with Providence Therapeutics of Calvery, Canada for mRNA products (see story). Initially, Everest will acquire China-Asia rights to Providence's mRNA clinical stage COVID-19 vaccine for $50 million upfront and $100 million in profit sharing. The two companies will also enter a 50/50 global collaboration for two additional Providence mRNA prophylactic or therapeutic products, also with a $50 million upfront payment and up to $300 million in sales milestones (which will be paid in Everest stock).
Cue Health, a San Diego company with a home testing kit for COVID-19, filed for a $180 million IPO on NASDAQ that values the company at $2 billion (see story), Shanghai's Decheng Capital participated in several Cue fundraisings including the company's $235 million round in May. Cue intends to build a broad platform to address a user's healthcare needs. The company's tests consist of a single-use cartridge that is compatible with the Cue Reader and sends the results to Cue's healthcare app on a smart phone.
Haisco Pharmaceutical (SHZ: 002653) of Shannan in-licensed China rights to a novel osteoarthritis therapy from San Diego's Biosplice Therapeutics in a $140 million agreement (see story). Lorecivivint, a potential disease-modifying osteoarthritis drug, is a CLK/DYRK kinase inhibitor that modulates the Wnt pathway. It is currently being tested in a US Phase III trial to treat knee osteoarthritis. Biosplice says it has the potential to be the first novel drug therapy for osteoarthritis in nearly 20 years. Haisco will make $20 million in upfront and near-term milestone payments.
IASO, a Nanjing biopharma, completed a $108 million Series C round to advance its novel cell therapy and biologic products for oncology and autoimmune diseases (see story). The company will use the proceeds to develop its cell therapy portfolio and develop a pipeline of universal allogeneic cell therapies to treat solid tumors. The C round was led by CDH Baifu, and included CCB International, with participation from Everbright Limited, Co-Stone Capital, CNCB Capital and Plaisance Capital. Since its founding in 2017, IASO Bio has raised more than $178 million.
Alebund Pharma, a Shanghai company focused on renal diseases, closed a $54.5 million Series B+ financing round. Four months ago, the company completed a $60 million B round (see story). Alebund will use the proceeds to advance its clinical programs, build a manufacturing facility, research its pre-clinical assets and hire additional staff. Its lead program is a treatment for hyperphosphatemia, currently in a Phase II clinical trial. The B+ round was led by 3H Health Investment, Loyal Valley Capital and Morningside Ventures.
Cytovia Therapeutics of Florida established a JV in Shanghai with an initial $45 million to develop its “off-the-shelf” CAR products in China (see story). The JV, CytoLynx, will pay up to $400 million in milestones to Cytovia as it develops the parent company's products. Cytovia is developing gene-edited iNK and CAR-iNK cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and NK cell engager antibodies. The $45 million initial funding was led by TF Capital and joined by other China venture capital firms.
Trials and Approvals
Nanjing Legend Biotech (NSDQ: LEGN) has started a US Phase 1 trial of its autologous CD4 CAR-T therapy for lymphoma (see story). The trial will enroll adult patients with relapsed or refractory peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL) or cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL). LB1901 targets CD4, a surface membrane glycoprotein expressed in most TCL subtypes. Legend's lead candidate, cilta-cel, is a BCMA-targeted CAR-T for multiple myeloma that is under review for marketing approval in China, the US and EU. Legend partnered cilta-cel with Janssen Pharma.
CStone Pharma (HK: 2616) of Suzhou was approved to start China trials of its tri-specific immunotherapy. CS2006/NM21-1480 is a next-gen anti-PD-1/PD-L1 that also targets 4-1BB and human serum albumin (HSA) (see story). It is designed to bind to the immune co-stimulation receptor 4-1BB and activate T cells only when engaging PD-L1 on the surface of tumor cells. In 2019, CStone acquired Greater China rights to the tri-specific from Zurich's Numab in exchange for funding its R&D through a Phase I clinical trial.
Harbour BioMed (HK: 02142) was approved to start China trials of its next-gen CLTA-4 candidate in combination with its PD-1 for two new indications: hepatocellular carcinoma and neuroendocrine tumor/neuroendocrine carcinoma (see story). HBM believes HBM4003, a fully human anti-CTLA-4 mAb, has the potential to improve efficacy while reducing toxicity as a monotherapy and combo-therapy. Earlier this year, the CLTA-4/PD-1 combination started China trials for NSCLC. Harbour is headquartered in Cambridge, MA, with discovery operations in Rotterdam and development labs in Suzhou.