Week In Review: Suzhou's Adagene Raises $140 Million In US IPO To Develop Oncology Drugs

Laboratory Test Tubes

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Deals and Financings

  • Adagene (ADAG), a Suzhou immunoncology biopharma, completed a $140 million NASDAQ IPO and climbed 56% higher in open market trading (see story). The company describes itself as a platform-driven, clinical-stage oncology company. Its two platforms are based on addressing protein folding and the motion caused by molecules that create dynamic conformational diversity, allowing an amino acid sequence to adopt multiple structures and functions. It has three lead candidates in clinical trials. Adagene has a market capitalization of about $1 billion.  
  • Shanghai Nuance Pharma in-licensed Greater China rights to a late-stage candidate for osteoarthritis pain from Toronto's Antibe Therapeutics (ATBPF) in a $100 million agreement (see story). Otenaproxesul is similar to naproxen, but it is designed to avoid naproxen's gastrointestinal side effects. Nuance identifies and in-licenses China rights to therapies that have achieved best-in-class, human proof-of-concept status. Nuance will pay $20 million upfront and $80 million in milestones, plus royalties.  
  • Ascletis Pharma (HK: 1672) of Hangzhou participated in the $80 million crossover funding of Sagimet Biosciences, a Bay Area company (see story). In 2019, Ascletis led a second tranche of Sagimet's Series E financing, acquiring China rights to its Phase II NASH treatment as part of the agreement. In June 2020, Sagimet announced ASC40 (TVB-2640) significantly reduced liver fat in its US Phase II trial, the primary efficacy endpoint, with a 61% response rate in the 50 mg group.
  • Neurophth Bio of Wuhan raised $62 million in a B round to develop its AAV-delivered gene therapies for ocular diseases (see story). The company plans to use the proceeds for IND submissions, a commercially scalable Suzhou GMP manufacturing facility, translational research centers, and its portfolio of gene therapies for ocular diseases. Its lead drug, NR082, was granted US orphan disease designation to treat Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON). The B round was led by Guofang Capital and InnoVision Capital.
  • Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine (SHA: 600276) acquired China rights to a PI3kδ inhibitor (YY-20394) from Shanghai Yingli Pharma (see story). Hengrui will make a $20 million investment in Yingli, and it will be responsible for clinical development of the candidate. PI3kδ inhibitors are expected to be effective treatments for hemotological tumors. Founded in 2011, Yingli Pharma is a small-molecule novel drug R&D company focused on treatments for hematological tumors, solid tumors, and kidney-related metabolic diseases.
  • China Medical System (HK: 0867) of Shenzhen acquired Luqa Ventures, a Shanghai dermatology company, at an undisclosed price (see story). Both companies in-license products for China's market. Founded in 2010, Luqa has developed a portfolio of aesthetic products, both OTC and prescription offerings. CMS said Luqa's portfolio would expand its own dermatology offerings and establish CMS as a provider of medical aesthetic products for the first time. Luqa's product lineup includes prescription drugs, medical devices, medical aesthetic solutions, and skin care products.  
  • Apollomics, a Hangzhou oncology company, acquired global rights (ex-China) to a novel protein kinase inhibitor discovered by Edison Oncology of California (see story). EO1001 is a TKI that has shown irreversible inhibition of EGFR, HER2, and HER4 as a single agent. It will be tested in non-small cell lung cancer and glioblastoma. Edison will receive an upfront cash payment, and it will be eligible to receive milestone payments, plus royalties. In 2019, Apollomics was formed with an unusual plan for a China biopharma of out-licensing China rights to its assets while retaining global rights.  
  • Apollomics acquired greater China rights to an Iterion candidate for desmoid tumors, a rare type of sarcoma that has no approved therapies (see story). The candidate, tegavivint, inhibits nuclear β-catenin that binds to TBL1 (Transducin βeta-like Protein One), a downstream target in the Wnt-signaling pathway. Tegavivint is currently in a Phase I/IIa clinical trial in progressive desmoid tumors. It has also shown pre-clinical activity in acute myeloid leukemia and non-small cell lung cancer. Iterion, located in Houston, Texas, develops beta-catenin modulators for cancer.  
  • Apollomics acquired greater China rights to a pre-clinical immunotherapy recombinant vaccine that targets the gastrin immunogen for pancreatic and other gastrointestinal cancers (see story). TYG100 was developed by the UK's TYG Oncology and originally co-developed with Nuance Biotech, a US-China biotech that assigned their rights to Apollomics. It was the third in-licensing announcement this week from Apollomics. Previously, Apollomics licensed products from Iterion and Edison Oncology.  
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