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Week in Review: Innovent Acquires GenFleet's KRAS G12C Oncology Candidate in $312 Million Deal

publication date: Sep 4, 2021
author/source: Richard Daverman, PhD

Deals and Financings

Shenzhen Ionova Life Science completed a $100 million financing to support its novel targeted and immuno therapies for cancer (see story). Its research arm, Touchstone Translational Research Institute, uses its biology-driven drug discovery platforms for new candidates while also collaborating with academia and biopharmas to translate basic biomedical research discoveries into novel therapies. Based on insights into the tumor microenvironment and immunoregulation, the company applies its "immunotherapy + targeted therapy" strategy. The financing was led by Tsing Song Capital, Shenzhen Capital Group Company and Greater Bay Area Homeland Development Fund.  

ETERN Therapeutics of Shanghai closed a Series B funding to advance its Protein Liquid-Liquid Phase Separation (LLPS) technology (see story). Established in 2018, ETERN, a clinical-stage company, said its LLPS technology focuses on developing molecules for previously undruggable targets. ETERN will use the capital to advance several novel programs through discovery and clinical development. The B round, whose size was not disclosed, was co-led by GL Ventures and AstraZeneca-CICC Healthcare Fund, with participation from new investor Morningside Ventures.  

Suzhou Innovent (HK: 01801) acquired greater China rights to GenFleet's lead KRAS G12C oncology candidate in a $312 million agreement (see story). GenFleet is a Shanghai clinical-stage biotech focused on novel oncology and immunology targets. Innovent will pay $22 million upfront, invest $50 million in global development support (if Innovent exercises its global option), and make up to $240 million in milestone payments. GenFleet's KRAS G12C candidate, GFH925, was recently approved to start China trials in patients with cancers that have a KRAS G12C mutation.  

Jacobio (HK: 1167), a Beijing-Shanghai Pharma, made a $53 million strategic investment in Boston-based Hebecell (see story). Jacobio will collaborate with Hebecel to develop its next-gen natural killer cell therapies based on induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC-NK). iPSC-NK uses natural killer cells that can be produced indefinitely from iPSC cells, without separating the cells from the patient's blood, a technology that has the potential to offer off-the-shelf CAR-T therapies. Dr. Yinxiang Wang, chairman and CEO of Jacobio, will become Chairman of Hebecell.  

NeuExcell Therapeutics, a Pennsylvania-Shanghai gene therapy company focused on neurodegenerative diseases, completed a $10+ million Series Pre-A financing from China investors (see story). Based on the scientific work of the company's co-founder and Chief Scientific Advisor, Prof. Gong Chen, NeuExcell has developed a neuron repair technology via in vivo astrocyte-to-neuron conversion. The technology delivers neural transcription factor(s) using an adeno-associated virus (AAV). The round was led by Co-Win Ventures and included YuanBio, Oriza Seed, Tsingyuan and InnoAngel.  

4B Technologies, a Suzhou biotech, signed a collaboration agreement with Hong Kong's Insilico, an AI discovery company, to develop innovative small molecule therapies for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other major neurological diseases (see story). 4B, which concentrates on novel CNS drugs, has already started Phase I trials of its lead asset for ALS and a rare condition. neuromyelitis optica. Using its knowledge of in neurosciences and CNS drug discovery, 4B has built a portfolio of five candidates for targets that include stroke and Alzheimer's in addition to ALS.  

Shanghai Microport EP Medtech and Stereotaxis of St. Louis will collaborate to develop advanced robotic electophysiology devices (see story). The companies will combine MicroPort EP’s electrophysiology products with Stereotaxis’ (NYSE: STXS) advanced Robotic Magnetic Navigation technology. MicroPort EP will become the exclusive distributor of Stereotaxis’ electrophysiology technology in China. The companies will integrate MicroPort EP’s Columbus® mapping system with Stereotaxis’ robotic systems, and they will work together to develop a family of cardiac ablation and diagnostic catheters.  

Trials and Approvals 

Gloria Biosciences was approved to launch its anti-PD-1 mAb to treat recurrent or refractory classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma (see story). The PD-1, zimberelimab, was discovered by CRO WuXi Biotech using Ligand Pharma's OmniRat® program. Gloria has rights to zimberelimab in China. GloriaBio is also testing zimberelimab in solid tumors and has been granted Breakthrough status for cervical cancer patients in China. The company, also known as Guangzhou Yuheng Biological, was established in 2016 by Yuheng Pharma and WuXi Biotech.  

Arctic Vision, a Shanghai ophthalmology company, was approved to start a China Phase III trial of a novel therapy for nearsightedness caused by age-related hardening of the lens (see story). ARVN003 is pilocapine, a known treatment for temporary improvement of nearsightedness, that is administered by Optejet®, a proprietary micro-dosing device. Optejet delivers about 20% of an eye drop, preventing overdosing. In 2020, Arctic acquired China rights to the product from Eyenovia, a US biopharma. Earlier this year, Arctic completed a $100 million B round to expand its in-licensed portfolio.  

Harbour BioMed (HK: 02142) was approved to start a China Phase II trial of its anti-FcRn (batoclimab) candidate in patients with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) (see story). CIDP is a chronic disease characterized by progressive weakness and impaired sensory function in the legs and arms. Currently, the condition is treated by corticosteroid pulses and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg), but these therapies cause side effects and IVIg is not always available. HBM is headquartered in the Boston area, with discovery operations in Rotterdam and labs in Suzhou

Disclosure: none.



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