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Week in Review: Innocare Strikes $937 Million Deal with Biogen for BTK Inhibitor

publication date: Jul 17, 2021
author/source: Richard Daverman, PhD

Deals and Financings

Beijing InnoCare (HK: 09969) out-licensed ex-China rights for its BTK inhibitor to Biogen (NSDQ: BIIB) in a $937.5 million deal (see story). Biogen, which will have rights to orelabrutinib in multiple sclerosis and other specified autoimmune diseases, will pay $125 million upfront and up to $812.5 million in milestones, plus royalties. Thirty years ago, Biogen' Avonix was the first biologic approved for MS, and it currently markets five therapies for the disease. Innocare has started a global placebo-controlled Phase II trial of orelabrutinib in patients with relapsing-remitting MS.  

Suzhou Innovent Bio (HK: 01801) announced a $245 million, three-part collaboration with Shanghai's Ascentage Pharma (HK: 6855) (see story) that includes:  

  • Joint China commercialization of HQP1351 (olverembatinib), Ascentage's lead candidate, a BCR-ABL TKI aimed at drug-resistant chronic myeloid leukemia; Innovent will make a $30 million upfront payment and be responsible for up to $115 million in milestones;
  • A clinical collaboration to develop Ascentage's Bcl-2 inhibitor (lisaftoclax) with Innovent's anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody Halpryza® (a rituximab biosimilar) and Innovent's anti-CD47 monoclonal antibody letaplimab (IBI188); and
  • A $100 million Innovent investment in Ascentage consisting of $50 million upfront and two-year warrants for a second $50 million. 

Adlai Nortye Biopharma, a Hangzhou oncology immunotherapy company, completed a $100 million Series D round led by CMG-SDIC Capital and existing investor Tigermed (see story). One year ago, Adlai Nortye raised close to $100 million in a Series C funding. Founded in 2016, Adlai Nortye has three candidates in clinical trials and at least ten more undergoing pre-clinical tests. It built the portfolio through collaborations and internal discoveries. It has clinical operation centers in both China and the US. Legend Star and WuXi Biologics' industry fund also participated in the latest funding. 

Jiangsu Hailai Xinchuang Medical Technology closed a $77 million Series C funding to advance its Tumor Treating Fields (TTF) electrical pulse technology for cancer (see story). TTF is designed to interfere with cancer cell division. Hailai has started a multi-center China clinical trial of EFE-G100 in glioblastoma patients, with positive initial results. The company will report an interim analysis from the data in 2022. The latest funding was led by YF Capital, with participation from Temasek, Lilly Asia Ventures, 3H Health Investment, CITIC and Qiming.  

ProfoundBio, a Suzhou-Seattle oncology newco, closed a $55+ million Series A financing from China investors (see story). The company will use the proceeds to advance its candidates from their ADC and immunoncology platforms into clinical trials. ProfoundBio's pipeline consists of eleven solid tumor-targeting drug candidates, currently in discovery and preclinical development. It plans to file several INDs next year. The round was led by Lilly Asia Venture and co-led by LYFE Capital, with participation from Sequoia Capital China and Oriza.  

PAQ Therapeutics, a CambridgeMass. autophagy company, closed a $30 million Series A round from China investors (see story). The company develops novel small molecule autophagosome-tethering compounds (ATTECs) designed to catalyze autophagy-dependent degradation of disease-causing substrates. PAQ's initial target is Huntington's Disease. The A round was led by Sherpa Healthcare Partners with Huagai Capital, MSA Capital, and MRL Ventures Fund participating, joined by seed investors, Nest.Bio Ventures and Matrix Partners China.  

Grit Biotechnology, a two-year-old Shanghai cell therapy company, completed a Series A+ round to develop its Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocytes (TIL) therapies (see story). Its leading program is GT101, a genetically unmodified TIL product that is currently being tested at a multi-centered clinical trial in China for solid malignancy indications. The round was led by GL Ventures, the VC arm of Hillhouse Group, with participation from Apricot Capital and Junshi Bio, as well as continued support from existing shareholders, Decheng Capital and Matrix Partners.  

Shanghai's Ji Xing Pharma announced a B funding round from New York City's RTW Investments, a healthcare investor that is the only Ji Xing backer to date (see story). The size of the B round was not disclosed, but RTW has already provided significant capital to Ji Xing. To acquire China rights to a treatment for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, RTW made a $50 million investment into Cytokinetics, ear-marked $90 million for development costs, and purchased royalty rights on future sales for $85 million. Ji Xing is developing Cytokinetics' CK-274 in China.

Trials and Approvals 

Suzhou's Kintor Pharma (HK:9939) will start a US Phase II trial of its treatment for male pattern baldness (see story). Pyrilutamide is a small molecule topical androgen receptor antagonist that inhibits both the androgen receptor and androgen in hair follicle sebaceous glands, thereby treating androgenetic alopecia and acne. The trial is Kintor's fifth US clinical study. Kintor's China Phase II trial of pyrilutamide is nearing its conclusion, with top-line data expected sometime in Q3 of this year.  

Ascletis Pharma (HK: 1672) of Hangzhou started a China bridging trial of its FXR agonist following a successful US Phase I trial of ASC42 in healthy patients (see story). The China trial will also enroll healthy patients in a placebo-controlled, dose escalation trial. As an FXR agonist, ASC42 inhibits the transcription of chronic hepatitis B virus. In preclinical tests, the candidate showed promise as a cure for CHB. Ascletis developed ASC42 in-house and believes it has best-in-class potential. It is also being tested as a treatment for NASH.  

Suzhou Innovent (HK: 01801) announced the first patient has been dosed in a China Phase I study of IBI323, an anti-LAG-3/PD-L1 bispecific antibody (see story). The trial is enrolling patients with advanced solid tumors. In preclinical studies, IBI323 blocked both the PD-1/PD-L1 and LAG-3 pathways with the goal of generating more effective and durable T lymphocyte activation than administering the two molecules separately. Innovent's PD-1, Tyvyt® (sintilimab injection) is approved in China and its BLA is under review in the US.  

Disclosure: none.


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