Week In Review: Kumquat Signs $2 Billion US-China Deal With Lilly For Novel Immune Drugs

Lab, Research, Laboratory, Chemistry, Scientist

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Deals and Financings

  • Kumquat Biosciences of San Diego announced a $2 billion agreement with a Lilly (LLY) subsidiary to discover small molecule drugs that stimulate tumor-specific immune responses in cancer patients (see story). Lilly will make a $70 million upfront payment, consisting of cash and equity, and it will be responsible for $2 billion in milestones. After Kumquat completes the discovery phase, Lilly will have an option to select the assets it will develop for the US, while Kumquat will retain China rights to the assets. Lilly will have an option to co-commercialize in China.  
  • Sirnaomics, a Maryland-Suzhou RNAi therapeutics company, filed to raise $300 million in a Hong Kong IPO (see story). Sirnaomics has two siRNA therapeutics that target TGF-β1 and COX-2 for either local or systemic administration to treat cancers and fibrotic diseases. Both are in Phase II trials in the US and China. The initial filing did not announce a financial goal for the offering, but data in the prospectus implied a $300 million target. Sirnaomics completed a $105 million Series E round earlier this month after raising the same amount in a Series D last year.  
  • MicroPort Cardiac Rhythm Management closed a $150 million Series C financing including $20 million from Hillhouse and $47 million from MicroPort® Scientific (MCRPF), its parent (see story). MicroPort CRM makes implantable pacemaker and defibrillator devices to manage cardiac rhythm disorders. In 2017, MicroPort acquired the CRM business of Italy's Liva Nova for $190 Million. MicroPort CRM is headquartered in Clamart, a suburb of Paris, with R&D teams in Clamart and Shanghai. The parent, MicroPort Scientific, is a global medical device company, headquartered in Shanghai. 
  • Bota Bio, a San Francisco-Hangzhou industrial synthetic biotech company, added $100 million to its Series B round (see story). Bota uses biological systems for clean and efficient bio-manufacturing of common household and industrial products. It points out current manufacturing methods which cause environmental damage. Bota, whose pipeline includes consumer goods, food, nutrition, and pharmaceutical products, wants to promote a sustainable biologic manufacturing processes. The financing was led by Sequoia Capital China.  
  • Zion Pharma of Hong Kong raised $40 million in a Series B financing led by OrbiMed to advance its small molecule cancer drugs (see story). Founded in 2018, Zion is based on its expertise in DMPK that allows the company to develop drugs capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier. The company's lead product in a tyrosine kinase receptor inhibitor targeting HER2 aimed at treating brain metastases accompanying HER2+ breast cancer. The candidate, ZN-A-104, has completed China and US initial trials. Zion is headquartered in Hong Kong with research operations in Shanghai and Suzhou.  
  • Neukio Biotherapeutics, a Shanghai startup, completed a $40 million Angel round to develop universal CAR-T therapies (see story). The round was led by Lilly Asia Venture, with participation from IDG Capital and Sherpa Investments. Neukio is developing allogenic cell therapies from the iPSC-CAR-NK axis. The company combines in-house innovation and external collaboration with global partners. Dr. Richard Wang, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Neukio was previously CEO of Fosun Kite, where he oversaw China development of Kite's Yescarta, an autologous CAR-T therapy.  
  • Guangzhou Lupeng Pharmaceutical completed a $35 million pre-B financing led by Temasek (see story). The company will use the funds for global clinical development of its lead drug, a selective Bcl-2 inhibitor, along with advancing at least four other candidates into clinical trials. Founded in 2018, Lupeng aims to develop global best-in-class therapies. The company develops novel small molecule drugs for cancer, hepatitis B, and autoimmune diseases. Lupeng is approved to conduct clinical trials of its lead Bcl-2 inhibitor in China, the US, the UK, and Spain for advanced lymphoma indications.  
  • I-Mab (IMAB), a Shanghai biotech, announced it is planning to add a listing on the STAR Board of the Shanghai Exchange (see story). The new offering is expected to take place in 2022. In early 2020, I-Mab completed a Nasdaq listing that raised $104 million. The company will also explore a Hong Kong IPO. I-Mab was formed in 2016 when CBC and Tasly Pharma merged two China biopharmas and funded them to promote novel drug discovery. In September 2020, I-Mab out-licensed ex-China rights for its anti-CD47 mAb to AbbVie (ABBV) in a $2 billion agreement.  

Trials and Approvals 

  • Shanghai Zai Lab (ZLAB) and Boston's Entasis Therapeutics (ETTX) have completed enrollment in a global Phase III trial of novel combination antibacterial (see story). Entasis' SUL-DUR combines two IV antibacterial aimed at treating infections caused by Acinetobacter baumannii, including carbapenem-resistant strains. Zai enrolled one-quarter of the patients in Part A of the trial, which will evaluate the primary efficacy of the candidate. In 2018, Zai acquired China rights to SUL-DUR in a $100 million agreement.  
  • Suzhou Innovent Bio (1801.HK) started a China Phase I trial of an anti-PD-1/TIGIT bispecific antibody in advanced malignant tumors, especially GI cancers (see story). Innovent said preclinical studies of IBI321 showed it retains the activity of a PD-1 inhibitor while suppressing TIGIT to enhance anti-cancer efficacy. TIGIT is an immune checkpoint receptor that plays a role in tumor immune surveillance. IBI321 was discovered through a collaboration between Innovent and Eli Lilly, but is being developed in China by Innovent. The Phase I study will evaluate dosing of IBI321 in several solid tumors.  
  • Shanghai's I-Mab has been cleared to start a US Phase I trial of its novel immunotherapy for Alzheimer's (see story). Protollin is composed of outer membrane bacteria proteins complexed with lipopolysaccharides that is delivered nasally to cross the brain-blood barrier. It is aimed at stimulating an immune response against the build-up of beta amyloid protein plaques and subsequent tau tangles. I-Mab will develop protollin ex-China; Nhwa (002262.SZ) owns China rights. The two China biopharmas in-licensed global rights to the candidate from Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital and Inspirevax, a Montreal biotech.

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