Week In Review: WuXi Biologics Out-Licenses Four TCE Antibodies To GSK In $1.5 Billion Pact

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Deals and Financings

WuXi Biologics (WXXWY) out-licensed global rights for up to four pre-clinical bi- & multi-specific TCE antibodies to GSK (GSK) in a $1.5 billion agreement (see story). TCEs are antibody-based immunotherapies that redirect T cells to kill cancer cells.

Initially, GSK will have rights to a pre-clinical bispecific antibody that crosslinks tumor cells and T cells by targeting a tumor-associated antigen (TAA) on tumor cells and CD3 expression on T cells. GSK may exercise rights for up to three additional earlier-stage pre-clinical TCE antibodies. WuXi Biologics will receive $40 million upfront and up to $1.46 billion in milestones for the four TCE antibodies, plus royalties. 

ArriVent Biopharma of Philadelphia is raising another $145 million to bring drugs from China and other emerging biotech hubs to the US market (see story). So far, the company has commitments for $110 million of the total.

18 months ago, ArriVent broke cover with news of a $150 million initial funding from China investors and a single development project: a potentially best-in-class EGFR TKI inhibitor, furmonertinib, in-licensed from Shanghai's Allist Pharma. Last summer, ArriVent began a US Phase Ib trial of furmonertinib in advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer patients with EGFR or HER2 mutations. 

HighTide Therapeutics, a Shenzhen-Maryland biopharma, closed a $107 Million C/C+ funding from China investors to support its candidates for metabolic and digestive diseases (see story).

The company’s lead candidate, HTD1801, is a first-in-class new molecular entity that is being tested in Phase II trials for type 2 diabetes, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, and primary sclerosing cholangitis. The C/C+ Round was led by the TCM Healthcare Fund of Guangdong, which is managed by China Development Bank Capital, and included Yuexiu Fund and Yuthai Fund. 

Immune-Onc Therapeutics added $25 million from China investors to its Series B extension, bringing the total for the B round to $131 million (see story). Immune-Onc is a Palo Alto, CA-Hangzhou company that is developing novel checkpoint inhibitors for cancer.

In 2022, BayHelix, the global organization of China life science business leaders, awarded the R&D Achievement of the Year to the company for its first-in-class myeloid checkpoint inhibitors, which have started clinical trials. The $25 million extension was raised from existing investor Triwise Capital and new investor Proxima Ventures, among others. 

Biocytogen Pharma (Beijing) out-licensed fully human antibody molecules to Jiangsu Hansoh Pharma for a target designated by Hansoh (see story). Hansoh will have global rights to the molecules, which were discovered and developed on Biocytogen’s RenMiceTM platforms.

Biocytogen will receive an upfront payment plus milestones of up to tens of millions of Chinese yuan, along with single-digit royalties on net sales, though no specific details were disclosed. Hansoh is a large China pharma that is actively making deals to expand its portfolio of novel drug offerings. 

Duality Biologics, a Princeton-Shanghai biotech, granted a license to Copenhagen’s Adcendo for its proprietary DITAC (Duality Immune Toxin Antibody Conjugates) platform (see story). Adcendo will use the platform to generate ADCs for its lead uPARAP-ADC program in mesenchymal cancers.

Duality says the platform generates candidates with superior safety, sustainable payload delivery in tumors, and efficient bystander killing of antigen cells. Duality will receive an upfront payment, milestones, and tiered royalties on sales, though no details were disclosed. 

Trials and Approvals

ProfoundBio, a Seattle-Suzhou company, has begun a first-in-human US Phase I trial of a proprietary ADC in patients with solid tumor cancers (see story).

The candidate, PRO1184, is an ADC that combines a folate receptor alpha-directed antibody conjugated to the exatecan payload using ProfoundBio's proprietary hydrophilic linker (exatecan is a novel synthetic camptothecin derivative). In July 2022, ProfoundBio was approved to start a US Phase I of PRO1160, an ADC that joins a CD70-directed antibody to the exatecan payload. 

Suzhou Transcenta reported that its first-in-class, high affinity, humanized mAb targeting Gremlin1 was approved to start China trials for castration resistant prostate cancer and microsatellite stable colorectal cancer (see story).

In preclinical tests, TST003 blocked EMT and showed potent single agent anti-tumor activity in models of multiple difficult-to-treat solid tumors. The company says Gremlin1 is highly upregulated in multiple solid tumors, including solid tumors that are resistant to checkpoint inhibitors. Transcenta was approved to start US trials of the candidate in September 2022. 

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