Week In Review: Sinopharm Transfers $4.6 Billion In Assets, Including Two COVID-19 Vaccines

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COVID-19 Pandemic 

Sinopharm Group (SHTDF), China's large state-owned pharma, will transfer six of its vaccine companies to Beijing Tiantan Biological Products (SHA: 600161), a Shanghai-listed biopharma that is 50% owned by Sinopharm (see story).

Two of the transferring companies have approved COVID-19 vaccines, and Sinopharma said a public listing will facilitate additional sources of funding for all of the assets. Sinopharm put a $4.6 billion valuation on the six companies. Tiantan is a biologics company with a current market capitalization of $7 billion that offers blood-based products and vaccines.

Deals and Financings

  • Shanghai Ocumension Therapeutics (HK: 1477) acquired Greater China rights to Alimera (ALIM)’s implant therapy for diabetic macular edema and other retina diseases in a $119 million agreement (see story). Ocumension will develop Iluvien® 0.19mg fluocinolone acetonide intravitreal implant for use in Greater China. It made a $10 million equity investment in Alimera, paid $10 million upfront, and will be responsible for up to $89 million in sales-based milestones. Ocumension will will also issue four-year warrants for 1 million of its shares to Alimera.  
  • StoneWise, a Beijing company offering AI-based small molecule drug development services, raised $100 million in Series B and B+ rounds (see story). Founded in 2018, StoneWise has built a smart drug development platform based on AI algorithms, computational chemistry, pharmaceutical chemistry, and computational biology. The company says its technology promotes a development process that is more time-efficient and cost-effective. The B round was led by Legend Capital, while the B+ round was co-led by Greater Bay Area Homeland Development Fund and Lightspeed China.
  • Shanghai BDgene Therapeutics completed a $9 million Series A round to develop its mRNA delivery platform, a viroid-like particle delivery system of mRNA (see story). BDgene, a clinical stage company, uses technology to deliver CRISPR/Cas9 mRNA, which provides safe and controllable gene editing in vivo, according to the company. BDgene's lead product is BD111, a CRISPR/Cas9 mRNA Instantaneous Gene Editing Therapy administered via corneal injection in patients with refractory herpetic viral keratitis, which has been approved for a six patient clinical trial in China.  
  • Shanghai's SciNeuro Pharmaceuticals in-licensed Greater China rights to Lilly (LLY)'s alpha-synuclein targeted antibody therapies, an expected therapy for Parkinson's (see story). SciNeuro will make an upfront payment along with downstream milestones and royalties, though details were not disclosed. In December 2020, SciNeuro was launched with $100 million from Lilly Asia Ventures and Arch Venture Partners to develop CNS therapies for China. The Lilly deal is SciNeuro's first in-licensing. 
  • Jilan's Qilu Pharma (KOSDAQ: 087010) in-licensed China rights to a preclinical anti-MUC1 conjugate oncology drug from Peptron of South Korea (see story). Peptron believes MUC1, which is over-expressed in many tumors, will prove to be a high-potential ADC target for multiple solid and hematological malignancies. Qilu will acquire rights to manufacture, develop, and commercialize Peptron's PAb001-ADC in China. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.   

Trials and Approvals 

  • Shanghai Junshi Bio (HK: 1877) announced China's NMPA approved a third indication for the company's PD-1 drug (see story). Toripalimab is now approved as a second-line therapy for locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma in patients who failed platinum-based chemotherapy or progressed within 12 months of neoadjuvant or adjuvant platinum chemotherapy. Previously, toripalimab was approved as a second-line treatment for metastatic melanoma and a third-line therapy for nasopharyngeal carcinoma. 
  • Innovent Biologics (HK: 01801) of Suzhou reported positive data from a Phase III trial of its anti-PD-1 drug, Tyvyt®, as a second line therapy for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (see story). Patients who received Tyvyt® experienced a statistically significant improvement in overall survival compared to those who received docetaxel. Currently, Innovent has three Tyvyt® NDAs under review in China. In addition, the company is conducting more than 20 clinical trials of Tyvyt® in a variety of cancer indications.  
  • Adlai Nortye, a Hangzhou-New Jersey biopharma, has dosed the first patient in a global Phase III trial of Buparlisib at the Shanghai Eastern Hospital Medical Center (see story). The trial will test Buparlisib, an oral pan-PI3K inhibitor, as a second-line therapy in patients with recurrent or metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Patients must have disease that progressed after a previous PD-1/PD-L1 treatment. Adlai Nortye said the trial is the first global multicenter Phase III trial of a PI3K inhibitor as an HNSCC therapy.  
  • Gracell Biotech, a Suzhou cell therapy company, reported positive results from a China Phase I trial of its allogeneic CAR-T candidate (see story). GC027 targets CD7. It was administered to adult patients with relapsed/refractory T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (r/r T-ALL) who had previously been treated with a median of six therapies. A single infusion of GC027 at one of three dosing levels produced a complete remission in all six patients. In the future, Gracell plans to test GC027 in global markets for T-All and other cancers as well.  
  • LintonPharm, a Guangzhou biopharma, was approved to start a China Phase I/II clinical trial of catumaxomab to treat recurrent Non-Muscle-Invasive Bladder Cancer (NMIBC) (see story). The trial will enroll patients whose tumors have recurred due to Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine failure. In 2020, LintonPharm started a China Phase III trial of catumaxomab. an immunotherapy, in patients with advanced gastric cancer. LintonPharm develops innovative T cell engaging bispecific antibodies, aiming to turn malignant cancers into manageable or curable diseases.  
  • Suzhou Kintor Pharma (HK: 9939) was approved to start China clinical trials of a proposed treatment for acne and androgenetic alopecia (see story). GT20029, which degrades the androgen receptor protein via the E3 ubiquitin ligase pathway, is the first topical AR therapy to begin clinical tests, according to Kintor. In preclinical studies, the candidate was more effective than other small molecule AR inhibitors, while avoiding excessive drug accumulation and other side effects.  

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