Week In Review: Beigene Sets Record With $1.4 Billion Celgene Deal

QIAGEN (Suzhou) Translational Medicine, a China precision medicine company, raised $25 million in a Series A funding led by Qiming Venture Partners (see story). QIAGEN (Suzhou)  was founded in 2013 by QIAGEN (NSDQ: QGEN), a global molecular diagnostics company headquartered in Germany, and BioBay, the Suzhou life science technology park. It specializes in developing biomarkers and stratifying patients in clinical trials. QIAGEN (Suzhou) said it plans to use the new capital to build a factory and expand its scientific team. 

Trials and Approvals

BeyondSpring (NSDQ: BYSI), a New York City immuno-oncology company, received CFDA approval for two China Phase II/III trials of its lead molecule, plinabulin, as a treatment for neutropenia (see story). One will be conducted in cancer patients being treated with docetaxel and another as an adjunct to a TAC regimen. An IV drug, plinabulin can be administered one hour after chemotherapy unlike the current standard of care, G-CSF, which requires a next-day visit to the hospital for infusion and, as a biologic drug, is more expensive. 

BeiGene (NSDQ: BGNE), a Beijing oncology company, has started the second pivotal China Phase II trial of its PD-1 immuno-oncology drug, BGB-A317, this time in patients with bladder cancer (see story). The first pivotal trial is testing BGB-A317 in patients with Hodgkin lymphoma. Last week, BeiGene announced positive preliminary data from a Phase I trial of the candidate in patients with advanced liver cancer. In the trial, BGB-A317 was generally well-tolerated and showed signs of efficacy in the heavily pre-treated patients. The news sent BeiGene's stock 21% higher to $54.46, an all-time high. 

Athenex (NSDQ: ATNX) announced the CFDA accepted its IND filing to start China clinical trials of Oraxol, an oral formulation of the chemotherapy paclitaxel (see story). Athenex, headquartered in Buffalo, New York, also has operations in Chongqing. The company has been conducting a US Phase III trial of Oraxol in patients with metastatic breast cancer since 2015, with initial data analysis expected later this year. To facilitate uptake of the oral drug, Athenex administers Oraxol along with a P-gp pump inhibitor (HM30181A), which the company in-licensed from South Korea's Hanmi Pharma (KRX:128940). 

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