Week In Review: Beijing BoomRay Closes $43 Million A Round For Novel Radionuclide Drugs

Laboratory Test Tubes

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Deals and Financings

Beijing BoomRay Pharma, a joint venture between WuXi AppTec and Peking University, completed a $43 million Series A funding to develop novel radionuclide drugs that integrate diagnosis and treatment (see story). The company intends to focus on nuclear drugs for new targets plus vectors and platform technologies.

The company has already built a radionuclide drug development platform with the help of WuXi AppTec. The A Round was led by Sequoia Capital China, with participation from Riverhead Capital, Tianfu Sanjiang Asset Management, Puhua Capital, CTS Capital, Life Park Venture Fund, and Shenzhen Jinshen Investment. 

Nanjing Frontier Biotechnologies (688221.SS) completed a $29 million private placement to underwrite development of its novel small molecule for COVID-19, bofutrelvir (FB2001) (see story). Bofutrelvir is a SARS-CoV-2 3CL protease inhibitor currently in clinical trials for hospitalized patients in need of post-exposure COVID-19 prophylaxis.

Founded in 2013, Frontier is a commercial-stage biopharma that focusing on unmet medical needs for anti-HIV treatment and pain management. A total of 19 investors participated in the funding included Lord Abbett, UBS AG, and Aeon Life. 

Hangzhou CellOrigin Biotech will collaborate with Qilu Pharma to develop off-the-shelf chimeric antigen receptor macrophages (CAR-iMAC) using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) for cancer immunotherapy (see story).

CellOrigin focuses on immune cell therapies (macrophages, NK cells) based on genetically engineered pluripotent stem cells. It uses metabolomics and transcriptomics analysis together with functional CRISPR-Cas9 screening of iPSCs to create novel allogenic off-the-shelf cell cancer therapies. Founded in 1958, Jinan Qilu offers more than 300 products in China. Both companies will contribute to develop the CAR-iMAC candidates. 

Vernalis Research formed a research collaboration with Unison Medicines to design small molecules for an undisclosed, hard-to-target bacterial site (see story). Vernalis is a Cambridge UK structure-based drug discovery company that was acquired by Chengdu HitGen (688222.SS) in 2020. Unison, a Cambridge, MA startup, develops novel drugs for drug resistant infections.

Vernalis will use its drug discovery technology to find small molecules for the Unison target, which has previously been considered undruggable. Unison will finance Vernalis’ work and be responsible for paying milestones and royalties on any revenues. Vernalis contributed to Unison's first financing round. 

Trials and Approvals

Tianjin CanSino Biologics (6185.HK) reported that an aerosolized version of its COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for China use as a COVID-19 booster vaccine (see story). CanSino pointed to preliminary study results showing the inhaled vaccine provided immunity after a single dose, but the company did not release detailed efficacy results.

The company’s COVID-19 vaccine, which is delivered by an adenovirus Type 5 vector, is 65% effective at preventing all symptomatic COVID-19 disease and 90% effective at preventing severe disease. CanSino partnered the COVID-19 vaccine with the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, Academy of Military Medical Sciences. 

Nanjing InxMed has started a pivotal China Phase II trial of its lead drug, a selective oral inhibitor of focal adhesion kinase (FAK), in patients with platinum-resistant recurrent ovarian cancer (PROC) (see story). InxMed develops innovative therapies that target drug resistance and metastasis in hard-to-treat solid tumors.

The Phase II study will test IN10018 in combination with pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (PLD) in patients with PROC. At ASCO 2022, InxMed reported the combination regimen showed antitumor efficacy and a good safety profile in PROC patients. 

Beijing Genor Biopharma (6998.HK) dosed the first patient in a China Phase I/II clinical trial of GB261, a CD20/CD3 bispecific antibody, that will enroll lymphoma/leukemia patients (see story). GB261 is the first T-Cell Engager with ultra-low affinity to bind CD3 and has Fc-enabled functions (ADCC and CDC).

Genor says GB261 inhibits rituximab-resistant cancer cell proliferation in both in vitro assays and in vivo models with a lower level of cytokine release. The trial will enroll patients with relapsed or refractory B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma. 

CASI Pharma (CASI) and Stockhom’s BioInvent have dosed the first patient in a China Phase I trial of their novel cancer immunotherapy (see story). The trial will test BI-1206, a first-in-class fully human mAb targeting FcγRIIB, in combination with rituximab for relapsed/refractory Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (NHL).

In 2020, CASI acquired China rights to the candidate from BioInvent in a $95 million deal. BioVent says FcyRIIB is a single inhibitory antibody checkpoint that unlocks anti-cancer immunity. CASI is a Maryland company that brings novel drugs to China. 

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