Week In Review: Qiming Launches $500 Million Fund For Listed Healthcare Companies

Laboratory Test Tubes

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Deals and Financings

  • Qiming, a prominent China-based venture capital firm, has raised more than $500 million to invest in shares of listed healthcare companies (see story). The Springhill Fund, as it is called, will have an initial regional focus on Greater China and Asia. It marks a departure for Qiming, a technology investor with a strong presence in young healthcare companies, which says that 70% of its investments are in early stage A or B financings. The fund will be long biased with concentrated long-term holdings and will invest across various healthcare sub-sectors, according to a person with knowledge of the fund.  
  • ProfoundBio, a Seattle-Suzhou antibody-drug conjugate company, acquired non-exclusive rights to use novel linker-payload technologies from Amsterdam's Synaffix (see story). It will make up to $246 million in upfront and milestone payments, plus tiered royalties on sales. ProfoundBio will have rights to use Synaffix's two linker technologies, GlycoConnect™ glycan conjugation and HydraSpace™ polar spacer, for a specific tumor associated antigen along with an option for a second TAA. Two weeks ago, ProfoundBio closed a $55 million funding for its ADC and IO candidates.  
  • Shanghai Junshi Bio (1877.HK) formed a mRNA Joint Venture with Hangzhou's Immorna to develop new drugs for cancer, plus infectious and rare diseases (see story). Initially, the JV will have a value of $16 million with Junshi contributing half of that in cash and Immora adding in its mRNA IP for the other half. Junshi, a company best known for developing the first domestically developed PD-1 drug approved in China, said it would invest up to $123 million in the JV. Immorna focuses on process development and optimization of mRNA and delivery vehicles along with R&D of novel nucleic acid drugs.  
  • Eluminex Biosciences (Suzhou), an ophthalmology biotech, in-licensed global rights to a biosynthetic cornea developed by FibroGen (FGEN) (see story). The synthetic cornea, which is intended to treat corneal blindness, is derived from recombinant human collagen Type III. Eluminex will make an $8 million upfront payment and will pay up to $64 million in milestones for the biosynthetic cornea program and $36 million in commercial milestones for the next non-corneal collagen III product.  
  • Juventas Cell Therapy of Beijing closed a Series C financing of over $62 million to develop its lead CAR-T candidate, stem cell (iPSCs) technology and gene editing platform (see story). In 2019, Juventas out-licensed global rights to CNCT19, a CD19 CAR-T treatment, to CASI Pharma (CASI) in return for an $11.6 million CASI investment. Juventas remains in control of clinical trials of the CAR-T in leukemia and lymphoma patients. The C round was jointly led by CICC Capital's fund and Oceanpine Healthcare Fund. 
  • Beijing Mabworks Biotech has filed an application to IPO on the Hong Kong Exchange (see story). The company is developing mAbs and multi-specific antibodies for oncology and autoimmune diseases. Its pipeline consists of six clinical-stage drug candidates and six pre-clinical candidates, plus an Avastin biosimilar that Mabworks out-licensed to Betta Pharma (300558.SZ) of Hangzhou. The company's lead candidate is MIL62, a third-gen CD20 multi-specific that is slated to begin Phase III trials in lymphoma. Because the application was the first filing, no financial details of the IPO were included.  
  • Shanghai's GenFleet Therapeutics partnered with Insilico Medicine, a Hong Kong AI-based drug discovery company, to identify new "game-changer" drugs (see story). GenFleet said it will add its virtual structure research platform, which explores the dynamic structure/activity relationship between target proteins and drug molecules, to the discovery process. The two companies will address significant unmet medical oncology needs including those with novel and difficult targets. One month ago, Insilico closed a $255 million Series C round.

Company News 

  • ImmVira, a Shenzhen oncolytic virus company, opened its pilot-scale production line for next-gen oncolytic viruses with capacity for Phase I/II clinical trials (see story). The company said its strategy combines in-house manufacturing with CDMO, allowing ImmVira to innovate on CMC techniques and improvements in production efficiency. ImmVira's lead product, MVR-T3011, is a genetically modified oncolytic herpes simplex virus that includes two exogenous genes -- PD-1 antibody and IL-12 -- to enhance the immune response. One month ago, ImmVira dosed the first patients in a China/US Phase II trial of MVR-T3011.  

Trials and Approvals 

  • Nanjing Frontier Biotech announced positive top-line results from a China Phase III trial of its long-acting two-drug therapy for AIDS (see story). In the trial, Frontier's once-weekly Aikening® (albuvirtide) plus lopinavir (LPV) showed it was not inferior to a lopinavir three-drug arm in an Asian population that had failed initial treatment. Two NRTIs were replaced with Aikening® in the combination therapy, which produced rapid and persistent viral suppression.  
  • Ascletis Pharma (1672.HK) of Hangzhou was approved to start its Phase III trial of ASC40 combined with bevacizumab for patients with recurrent glioblastoma (rGBM) (see story). ASC40 is an oral small molecule inhibitor of FASN. Ascletis acquired China rights to ASC40 from San Francisco's 3-V Biosciences for NASH in 2019. In a Phase II trial, the combination therapy produced an overall response rate of 65% with a 20% complete response rate in patients with recurrent glioblastoma. 
  • Jilin Qilu Pharmaceutical has enrolled the first patient in a China bridging trial of Vicineum in patients with BCG-unresponsive non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) (see story). One year ago, Qilu in-licensed China rights to the candidate from Boston's Sesen Bio (SESN) in a deal worth $38 million. The start of the trial triggered a $3 million milestone payment. Sesen develops targeted fusion protein therapeutics for cancer. Qilu expects to submit a China market application for Vicineum in 2022; a decision on Sesen's application for US marketing approval is due in August.  
  • Shanghai's Antengene (6996.HK) was approved to start an Australian Phase I trial of its PD-L1/4-1BB bispecific antibody (see story). The trial will evaluate the safety and tolerance of ATG-101 as a single agent in patients with metastatic/advanced solid tumors and B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Antengene, which developed ATG-101 in-house and continues to hold global rights to the candidate, plans to file INDs for China and US trials of ATG-101 later this year.  

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