Week In Review: Grail, An Oncology Diagnostics Company, Taps China Investors For $300 Million

Grail, a Hong Kong-US oncology diagnostics company, announced a $300 million C financing (see story). Since early 2016, Grail has raised over $1.5 billion. The company is sequencing large populations of people -- some with cancer, some without -- to discover an early blood-based diagnostic test for cancer. Grail was spun out of Illumina (Nasdaq:ILMN), the gene sequencing company. Ally Bridge Group led the financing. Hillhouse Capital and 6 Dimensions Capital co-led the round. In 2017, Grail merged with Cirina, a Hong Kong cancer diagnostics company, which was co-founded by Dennis Lo, DM, DPhil, an early scientific leader in the field of molecular diagnostics.  

Shanghai Pharma (SHA: 601607; HK: 2607), together with Guangzhou Industrial Investment Fund Management, will pay $280 million to acquire Takeda's : (TSE: 4503) majority stake in their China JV, Guangdong Techpool Bio-Pharma (see story). Currently, Takeda owns 52% of Techpool. After the transaction, Shanghai Pharma will own 67% of Techpool, and the Guangzhou Fund 25% (another arm of the Fund already owns 8%). Despite the sale, Takeda remains committed to China and plans to introduce up to seven innovative products in China over the next five years.

Brii Bio, a China-US startup, raised $260 million in initial capital to bring innovative drugs to China (see story). So far, Brii has options on China rights to four biotech infectious disease assets from Vir of San Francisco. Brii, which plans to combine partnerships, R&D and digital/big data, will use WuXi AppTec and WuXi biologics for development of its projects, rather than building its own facilities. The funding was led by ARCH Venture Partners, 6 Dimensions Capital, Boyu Capital, Yunfeng Capital, Sequoia Capital and Blue Pool Capital.  

Shanghai's Antengene has licensed China rights to four novel oral drug candidates developed by Karyopharm (Nasdaq: KPTI) of Boston in an $162 million agreement (see story).  Karyopharm's candidates, which are based on inhibiting nuclear transport and related targets, are intended mainly for oncology indications. Antegene will pay $12 million upfront and up to $150 million in milestones, plus royalties. It will be responsible for all costs, but will have rights to develop, manufacture and commercialize the four compounds in greater China. 

Legend Capital, the controlling shareholder of Lenovo Group, completed a $156 million capital raise for its RMB China healthcare fund (see story). The fund will invest in innovative medicines, precise treatments, medical devices, diagnostic technologies, medical services and genetic technologies. This is the second phase of the RMB healthcare fund, which closed its first fundraising last year. The second phase will expand its investing strategy across early-stage to later-stage investments. The firm also plans to close a US dollar healthcare fund in Q3 of this year. 

Pivotal bioVenture Partners China, a new early-stage VC funded by Nan Fung Life Sciences, closed its first fund with $150 million (see story). The firm plans to incubate life science companies in China by in-licensing innovative products and technologies, focusing on pharmaceuticals, devices and services. Last year, the US arm of Nan Fung Life Sciences raised $300 million, also for early stage biotech companies though without the China focus. Nan Fung is a Hong Kong conglomerate with interests in real estate, life sciences and finance.

WuXi Biologics (HK: 2269) will spend $60 million to build a biologics CDMO plant in Singapore (see story). The facility will be WuXi Biologics' tenth manufacturing plant globally and the third new facility it has announced in three weeks. Previously, the company released plans to build a $392 million plant in Ireland and then a $240 million facility in the northern China city of Shijiazhuang. During 2011-14, WuXi Biologics opened three large facilities in Shanghai, Wuxi City and Suzhou. When the Singapore plant is up and running, it will provide approximately 150 jobs.  

Splendris, a Shenzhen Salubris Pharma (SHZ: 2294) affiliate, acquired China rights to a novel MedAlliance cardiovascular balloon by making a $20 million investment in MedAlliance and agreeing to pay up to $10 million in milestones (see story). Selution is a clinical-stage sirolimus micro-reservoir drug-coated balloon (DCB). Splendris expects Selution's sirolimus micro-depots balloons will prove to be safer and more effective than paclitaxel-coated balloons, the current standard of care. MedAlliance is located in Switzerland. 

Shanghai Pharma (SHA: 601607; HK: 2607) has signed a new 20-year collaboration with Milan's Bracco Imaging to develop Bracco's microbubbles technology as an ultrasound contrast agent to image tumor angiogenesis (see story). Microbubbles are already used to image cardiac cavities, large vessels and tissue vascularity. Since 2001, Bracco has collaborated with Shanghai Sine, a subsidiary of Shanghai Pharma via a JV. The new collaboration will support an innovative Shanghai Pharma immuno-oncology candidate aimed at pancreatic cancer.  

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Over the past month, WuXi Biologics (HK: 2269) has announced three new manufacturing plants, two of them outside of China -- the first time it has located manufacturing plants in a foreign country (see story). The new facilities represent substantial investments: $390 million for the Ireland plant, $240 million for Shijiazhuang (northern China) and $60 million in Singapore. WuXi completed its first biologics plant in 2012 inWuxi City, which remained its only manufacturing facility until last year. By 2022, when all its announced facilities are expected to be GMP certified, WuXi will have ten plants operating with a total capacity of 222,700 liters annually, up from zero production capacity in 2011.  

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