Week In Review: YishengBio To List On NASDAQ Via SPAC Merger At An $834 Million Value

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Laboratory Test Tubes

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Deals and Financings

Beijing YishengBio will merge with a SPAC vehicle, Summit Healthcare Acquisition (SMIH), to list on the NASDAQ Exchange at a pre-money equity value of $834 million (see story). Last year, the company filed an IPO in Hong Kong, but did not complete the transaction.

Yisheng develops new generations of vaccines and therapeutic biologics for infectious diseases and cancer. The merger is expected to provide up to $230 million in cash to YishengBio, including $30 million from new investors and up to $200 million currently in Summit's trust account. The company will change its name to YS Biopharma. 

Simcere Pharma (2096.HK) of Nanjing announced a $507 million out-licensing to Spain’s Almirall for ex-China rights to a biologic autoimmune candidate (see story). SIM0278 in an IND-ready interleukin 2 mutant fusion protein (IL-2 mu-Fc) that activates regulatory T cells developed by Simcere's protein engineering platform.

Almirall, a dermatology biopharma, will make a $15 million upfront payment to Simcere and up to $492 million in milestones, plus royalties. Almirall will have rights for all indications outside of Greater China. For Almirall, probable indications are skin diseases, including psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and alopecia areata. 

Xuanzhu Biopharm, a novel drug subsidiary of Sihuan Pharm (0460.HK) based in Jinan, has filed for an IPO on the Shanghai STAR Exchange that would raise $345 million (see story). Now 20 years old, Xuanzhu has developed a portfolio of more than 25 small molecule and biologic candidates, including two NDA stage products.

The company has built a 400-member team led by returnee scientists that develops new drugs through its own R&D without depending on in-licensings or CROs. Earlier this year, Xuanzhu completed a $96 million Series B financing. 

In June, Jilin Huisheng Biopharm completed a $70 million Series A funding to support development of its diabetes therapies (see story). Sihuan Pharma formed Huisheng in 2014 as a non-wholly owned subsidiary to develop products for diabetes and its complications.

After seven years of development and $210 million of investment, Huisheng has an R&D team of over 200 people and a large portfolio of 40 products at different stages aimed at diabetes. After the A round, Sihuan still owns a 68% stake in Huisheng, while the four A round investors own 10%. 

Shanghai Hansoh Pharma (3692.HK) acquired Greater China rights to an injection for osteoarthritis of the knee from Belgium’s KiOmed Pharma (see story). KiOmedinevsOne is a novel highly purified polysaccharide based on a mushroom that is administered by injection. Unlike hyaluronic acid, the therapy has a dual mechanism that reduces oxidative stress and increases lubrication of the joint.

Hansoh will make an unspecified upfront payment and be responsible for up to $63 million in milestones, plus royalties on sales. KiOmedinevsOne, an animal-free product, was approved for EU use last year. 

Shanghai Zai Lab (ZLAB) formed a collaboration with Seattle’s Seagen (SGEN) to develop a novel treatment for cervical cancer in China (see story). Tivdak® (tisotumab vedotin-tftv) is the only ADC approved in the US for metastatic/recurrent cervical cancer with disease progression.

Zai Lab will make a $30 million upfront payment and be responsible for unspecified milestones and royalties. The drug was co-developed by Seagen and Copenhagen’s Genmab, which are conducting a confirmatory Phase III trial. The two companies will split all China revenues 50/50. 

NeuShen Therapeutics, a Shanghai-Boston CNS startup, closed a $20 million Pre-A financing to advance its AAV-based gene therapy and small molecule discovery platforms (see story). The company was founded by Joan Shen, MD, PhD, who previously was CEO at Shanghai’s I-Mab.

NeuShen is currently in discussions with the Horae Gene Therapy Center, UMass Chan Medical School to develop several of the Center’s CNS gene therapy projects. The company said it would use the capital to add team members and advance in-house CNS drug discovery in the US and China. The financing was led by Lapam, a China VC. 

SynerK, a Boston area startup, will partner with Hangzhou’s Sciwind to develop small interfering RNA candidates for liver and metabolic diseases that remain unmet medical needs (see story). The companies will work together to identify new therapeutic targets that play critical roles in disease biology.

SynerK has R&D centers in Boston, Suzhou, and Beijing. The company, whose founders are RNA industry experts, plans to apply siRNA to treat diseases that have previously been difficult to treat through traditional approaches. SynerK was earlier housed at Massachusetts’ Creagen Life Science Incubato, but is now on its own. 

Trials and Approvals

Nanjing Bioheng Biotech published positive Phase I clinical study results of RD13-01, a universal anti-CD7 CAR-T therapy in the journal Cell Research (see story). The first-in-human study showed the allogeneic CAR-T therapy was effective in patients with relapsed/refractory CD7-positive hematological malignancies.

Of the 11 patients analyzed for efficacy, 9 (82%) had an objective response while 6 of 8 leukemia patients (75%) experienced minimal residual disease/complete remission. Bioheng focuses on novel cellular immunotherapies, most of which are allogeneic CAR-Ts aimed at hematologic and solid tumors. 

Harbour BioMed (2142.HK) dosed the first patient in a Phase I study of HBM9378, a next-generation fully human antibody targeting thymic stromal lymphopoietin for moderate-to-severe asthma (see story). Harbour partners HBM9378 with Sichuan Kelun-Biotech, which shares 50/50 global rights to the candidate.

Developed from HBM's H2L2 platform, its long half-life optimization and other properties are aimed at extended dosing. In 2018, HBM acquired global ex-China rights to Kelun-Biotech’s PD-L1 candidate in a $350 million agreement. The two partners also agreed to collaborate on other projects. 

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