Deals and Financings
WuXi AppTec announced a $910 million IPO on the Shanghai exchange for the company’s core small-molecule CRO business. China regulators approved WuXi’s prospectus in a short seven weeks, indicating that they are very eager to list the company, China’s largest CRO, on a domestic exchange. Two years ago, WuXi AppTec de-listed from the New York Exchange in a $3.3 billion privatization led by Dr. Ge Li, the company’s Founder and Chairman, and backed by AllyBridge. WuXi is spinning off pieces of its CRO/CDMO empire, conducting IPOs for each, and already showing that the privatization will be very profitable for its investors.
Aslan Pharma (TT: 6497) of Singapore filed to stage an $86 million US IPO on the Nasdaq Global Market. The company has four oncology projects underway, two of which are clinical stage. Aslan focuses on prevalent cancer indications in Asia and orphan indications in the US and Europe. Two years ago, the company conducted a $39 million IPO in Taiwan, where it has a $210 million market capitalization. Aslan reported $50 million of cash in its most recent filing.
Ascentage Pharma of Suzhou will stage an IPO on the Hong Kong exchange, probably later this year. Ascentage is one of several relatively young China biopharmas that plan to take advantage of Hong Kong’s soon-to-be-implemented regulation changes allowing pre-revenue companies to list. According to sources, Ascentage made the commitment to Hong Kong earlier this week, so the company is in the early stages of the process and no details of the proposed IPO are available. Ascentage develops small-molecule oncology drugs with apoptosis mechanisms. It is testing six molecules in clinical trials, either in China, the US or both.
Boehringer Ingelheim joined with two China animal health companies to form a $134 million JV to address foot-and-mouth disease in pigs, cattle and sheep. BI will contribute its vaccine technology to the JV, which will be located in Xi’an and called Shaanxi Meili Omni-Honesty Animal Health. The JV expects to begin production of the vaccine in 2021. BI will be joined by Beijing KangMu Omni-Honesty Animal Health Products (KMOH), and China Agricultural Vet. Bio. Science and Technology (ZNWT).
Shanghai’s Hua Medicine closed a combined Series D and Series E financing of $117.4 million, which the company says will be enough to fund two clinical trials and commercial launch of its novel oral treatment for type 2 diabetes in China. The candidate, dorzagliatin (HMS5552), is a novel first-in-class, 4th-generation glucokinase activator (GKA). It works by improving the reaction of impaired blood glucose sensors, producing insulin in response to higher glucose levels. Hua expects China approval of dorzagliatin in 2020.
Roivant Sciences, a US in-licensing company, acquired greater China rights to a clinical-stage antibiotic for community-acquired bacterial pneumonia (CABP) from Nabriva Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NBRV) in a $95 million deal. Roivant paid $5 million upfront and will make up to $90 million in milestone payments, plus royalties. Nabriva reported positive data from one international Phase III trial of lefamulin last year, and it expects results from a second Phase III trial this Spring. Roivant will be responsible for clinical and registrational costs in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.
Singlera Genomics raised $60 million in an A+ round to expand its portfolio of non-invasive genetic diagnostics for cancer. The company, which operates in La Jolla, California, and Shanghai, bases its tests on proprietary technologies that analyze cell-free DNA. Singlera offers five products for cancer screening, diagnosis and personalized treatment. The funding was co-led by Green Pine Capital Partners and Prosperico Ventures with participation from new and existing investors UCF Medical Investment, Jointown Pharmaceutical Group and Lilly Asia Ventures.
Adagene of Suzhou raised $50 million in an oversubscribed Series C round to support is portfolio of six oncology projects that are nearing clinical trials. The company believes its proprietary Dynamic Precision Library Platform, on which its oncology molecules are based, offers new druggable targets and greater binding precision. In addition to developing its own portfolio, the company offers discovery services. The C round was led by Sequoia China and included New World TMT, AVIC Trust, King Star Capital, Gopher Asset Management along with other investors.
CBT Pharma, a California-China spin-out from Crown Bioscience (TWSE: 6554), in-licensed global rights to a CTLA-4 checkpoint inhibitor from CrownBio in a deal worth $46 million of milestones plus unspecified royalties. In 2016, CBT was spun out of CrownBio with four oncology candidates and $5 million in startup cash and then, later in the year, completed a $9.7 million Series A round led by Orbimed Asia. According to CBT, the CTLA-4 molecule is its third checkpoint inhibitor and complements its PD-1 and PD-L1 inhibitors.
Simcere Diagnostics (Simceredx) announced a China partnership with San Diego’s Agena Bioscience using Agena’s MassARRAY System for its own companion diagnostics and pharmacogenetic testing products. Simceredx is a one-year-old division of Nanjing’s Simcere Pharma. It plans to develop panels that support companion diagnostics for Simcere’s drug offerings. Agena’s MassARRAY System provides high-throughput genetic analysis for cancer profiling of solid tumors and liquid biopsies. Simcere’s sales force will market the device to China hospitals.
Global Drug Development Centre China (GDCC) acquired greater China rights to a clinical stage anti-seizure product from Biscayne Neurotherapeutics of Miami. Biscayne described the candidate, BIS-001ER, as a highly potent form of huperzine A, a synthetic extract of a traditional Chinese medicine, which has a history of being used to treat neurological disorders. GDCC will own rights to Biscayne’s IP for BIS-001 ER and will be responsible for clinical trials and other regulatory work in its territories.
Trials and Approvals
Guangzhou MaxiNovel Pharma has been granted Orphan Drug Designation in the US for MAX-40279, a proposed oral treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). According to MaxiNovel, clinical tests of MAX-40279 showed “potent” inhibition of both FLT3 and FGFR with excellent drug concentration in the bone marrow. MaxiNovel designed the molecule to overcome the drug resistance experienced by current FLT3 inhibitors due to bone marrow FGF/FGFR pathway activation. The company has filed to begin a Phase I trial of MAX-40279.
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