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Week in Review: Mabwell Bio Raises $547 Million in Shanghai STAR IPO

publication date: Jan 22, 2022
author/source: Richard Daverman, PhD

Deals and Financings

Mabwell (Shanghai) Bioscience (SHA: 688062) completed a $547 million IPO on Shanghai's STAR Board (see story). Established in 2017, Mabwell is a clinical-stage antibody developer with 15 assets in its pipeline: three are in BLA stage, three in pivotal trials and six in Phase I/II trials. The company's lead candidates are biosimilars. It develops therapies for indications in auto-immune diseases, oncology, metabolic disorders, ophthalmologic diseases and infectious diseases. The company has a wholly-owned US subsidiary, Mabwell Therapeutics, in San Diego. Mabwell's shares have fallen 22% below their IPO price.  

Novotech Health Holdings Pte, a clinical CRO with integrated labs and Phase I facilities, completed a $255 million financing (see story). Novotech is an Asia-Pacific CRO that consists of Novotech in Singapore and Australia and PPC in mainland China. The two companies merged in 2020. Novotech said it would use the funds to pursue M&A that will expand its geographical footprint while also adding data, AI and tech-enabled services. The financing valued Novotech at $3 billion. Novotech offers clinical CRO services for all indications and all clinical trial phases.  

Abbisko Therapeutics (HK: 2256) of Shanghai formed a global collaboration worth up to $258 million with Lilly (NYSE: LLY) to continue discovery and development of novel molecules for cardiometabolic diseases (see story). Abbisko will be responsible for further discovery/development of molecules that modulate a novel target using its proprietary R&D platform. If Abbisko successfully advances the compounds to their endpoints, Lilly will have the right to take over commercialization. If Lilly elects not to advance the compounds, Abbisko will have global rights to the candidate and pay milestones and royalties to Lilly.  

Suzhou Innovent Bio (HK: 01801) optioned China rights to develop up to three enzyme specific inhibitors for inflammatory diseases from Amagma Therapeutics, a Massachusetts company (see story). The candidates are products of Amagma’s structure-based SEIZMIC™ Platform. Innovent will be responsible for manufacturing the three candidates through a Phase II study conducted by Amagma. If Innovent exercises its option, it will have Greater China rights to develop and commercialize each program, and Amagma will be eligible to receive milestones plus royalties.  

Everest Medicines (HK: 1952) acquired global rights to several early stage protease inhibitor candidates for SAR-CoV-2 from Singapore's Experimental Drug Development Centre (see story).  Everest will have exclusive rights to develop, sub-license and commercialize EDDC's series of viral 3C-like protease inhibitors as COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments. The candidates have shown potent in-vitro activity against SAR-CoV-2 and its variants, as well as other coronaviruses such as MERS. Clinical trials of the lead candidate are expected to begin later this year. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. 

Zhejiang JYSS Bio-Engineering closed a B+ round led by Huatai International Private Equity Fund to expand its single use bioreactor and assemblies manufacturing (see story). In 2014, JYSSBio was the first China company to offer single use bioreactors. In 2018, the company began large-scale manufacturing and entered the CDMO business. JYSSBio said it would use the proceeds to increase its manufacturing capacity expansion and make further R&D investments. The size of the financing was not disclosed.  

Suzhou Eluminex Biosciences, an ophthalmology company, acquired global rights to a novel oral therapy for childhood blindness and night blindness in early dry AMD from Seattle's Retinagenix (see story). The candidate, zuretinol acetate, is being developed to treat rare forms of childhood blindness in patients with Leber's Congenital Amaurosis or Retinitis Pigmentosa caused by mutations of the RPE65 or LRAT gene. Zuretinol is scheduled to start pediatric Phase IIb/III trial later in 2022.  

Trials and Approvals

Suzhou CStone Pharma (HK: 2616) announced a China Phase III trial of its PD-L1 (Cejemly®) met its overall survival endpoint as a first-line therapy for non-small cell lung cancer (see story). The PD-L1, sugemalimab, was administered together with chemotherapy to patients with Stage IV NSCLC. In December, CStone was approved to launch the regimen in China for metastatic squamous and non-squamous NSCLC, based on progression-free survival data. In the US, EQRx owns rights to sugemalimab and plans to market it as a lower cost alternative to PD-1/PD-L1 drugs from big pharmas. 

Shanghai Elpiscience Bio has started a US Phase I trial of its novel anti-CD39 monoclonal antibody in patients with advanced solid tumors (see story). CD39 is a key enzyme regulating the production of adenosine, a critical immune suppressor. The candidate, ES002, has shown single-agent anti-tumor activity in pre-clinical studies. The Phase I clinical trial will evaluate the safety, tolerability and preliminary clinical activity of ES002. An immuno-oncology company, Elpiscience now has four molecules in clinical trials.  

Neurophth Therapeutics, a Wuhan-San Diego rare disease company, was approved to start US trials of its in-vivo gene replacement therapy for Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) associated with ND4 mutation (see story). The candidate, NR082, is a novel recombinant adeno-associated viral serotype 2 vector (rAAV2) containing a codon-optimized of NADH-dehydrogenase subunit 4 (ND4) gene. In three investigator-initiated trials that enrolled 186 LHON patients, an intravitreal injection of rAAV2-ND4 was well tolerated and showed efficacy in improving vision. NR082 is the first China-developed AAV gene therapy for LHON to start clinical trials.  

Disclosure: none.   


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