Week In Review: James Watson To Lead New Shenzhen Biopharma Research Center

James Watson, who co-discovered the double-helix structure of DNA in 1953, will lead a new international life science research center in the International Bio Valley, located in Shenzhen's Dapeng New Area (see story). A groundbreaking ceremony was held last Friday with Dr. Watson in attendance. The new research center, which may be called the Watson Research Center of Life Science, will strive to find new, less expensive solutions to the problem of cancer and will be staffed by more than 1,000 scientists. 

Deals and Financings

Oxford Nanopore Technologies, a UK company that offers several portable real-time DNA/RNA sequencers, completed a $140 million funding led by Asian investors (see story). The investors were GIC (the Singapore sovereign wealth fund), China Construction Bank and Hostplus of Australia. Existing investors also participated. Oxford Nanopore will apply the funds to its continuing commercial expansion, including a manufacturing facility in Oxford. It is also expanding into larger lab-based sequencers. The company, which is already marketing in China, is opening a Shanghai office.   

TCR2 Therapeutics, a Boston immuno-oncology company, closed an oversubscribed $125 million Series B financing (see story). The round was co-led by 6 Dimension Capital, a Boston-Shanghai investor (formed by Frontline and WuXi Healthcare Ventures), along with Curative Ventures of Texas. TCR2 will use the funds to develop its novel T cell receptor cellular therapies for solid tumors and blood cancers. Specifically, TCR2 says the funds will be enough to complete human proof-of-concept of two TRuC™-T cell programs.   

CASI Pharma (Nasdaq: CASI), a Maryland-Beijing company, announced a $50 million private placement, which it will use to launch its first commercial product in China and supply working capital (see story). Two months ago, CASI acquired a portfolio of 29 generic drug candidates from Sandoz, the generic drug division of Novartis (NYSE: NVS). CASI plans to select certain members of the portfolio to develop for China approval. 

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