Week In Review: Three China In-Licensing Deals Add Up To $662 Million

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Deals and Financings

  • Simcere Pharma (SCR) of Nanjing announced a $292 million agreement to develop a proposed Kazia Therapeutics (KZIA) treatment for glioma in Greater China (see story). Paxalisib is a brain-penetrant inhibitor of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway, which is disordered in the majority patients with glioblastoma, the most common and most aggressive form of primary brain cancer. Kazia, an Australian company, said paxalisib seemed to be effective in a pivotal Phase II trial among GBM patients, though the trial began less than three months ago.  
  • LianBio, a Shanghai-Princeton in-licensing company, formed a $200 million partnership with Tarsus Pharma of Irvine, CA, to develop Tarsus' ophthalmology drug in Greater China (see story). Tarsus describes TP-03 as a first-in-class therapeutic in late-stage development to treat Demodex blepharitis and Meibomian Gland Disease (MGD), two eye conditions with unmet treatment needs. The company said there are 40 million China patients with Demodex blepharitis and another 70 million patients with MGD. Tarsus will receive a minority stake in LianBio Ophthalmology, a newco, if specified milestones are met.  
  • AffaMed Therapeutics, a Shanghai biopharma, closed a $170 million Series B financing to develop treatments for ophthalmic, neurological, and psychiatric disorders (see story). Formed in 2019 by CBC Group, AffaMed merged last fall with EverInsight, a Shanghai company with a similar focus. In 2019, AffaMed in-licensed its first three ophthalmology candidates from Korea's Bioepis. It will use the proceeds to advance clinical development of its pipeline, augment business development, and prepare for commercialization. 
  • Immune-Onc Therapeutics of Palo Alto, CA raised $73 million in a Series B1 and B2 financing led by Oceanpine Capital, a Beijing-based venture firm (see story). Immune-Onc is a clinical-stage cancer immunotherapy company that targets immunosuppressive myeloid checkpoints. To overcome cancer immune resistance, the company's R&D focuses on targeting the Leukocyte Immunoglobulin-Like Receptor subfamily B (LILRB) of myeloid checkpoints. Immune-Onc aims to test its candidate in blood cancers and solid tumors. 
  • Qihan Biotechnology, a Hangzhou gene editing company, raised $67 million in a Series A++ round to advance its portfolio of novel autologous cell therapies (see story). The company uses its multiplexable genome editing technology to develop cell therapies and facilitate organ transplants. With the new capital, Qihan plans to conduct IND-enabling studies and hypoimmunity projects, plus expand its manufacturing facility. The round was backed by Lilly Asia Ventures, Matrix Partners China, Sequoia, and CMB International.  
  • Neuracle Technology (Changzhou) closed a Series B funding of $16 million to advance development of its brain-machine interface technology (see story). With its ties to Tsinghua University's technology, Neuracle is developing a minimally invasive brain-computer interface system that inserts a coin-sized internal machine in the skull. The device communicates wirelessly with an external device. The B round was led by Sequoia Capital China and included Co-win Ventures and Roton Capital.  
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