Offers and financing
Beijing BoomRay Pharma, a joint venture between WuXi AppTec (OTCPK: WUXIF) and Peking University, closed a $43 million Series A funding to develop novel radionuclide drugs that integrate diagnosis and treatment (see story). The The company intends to focus on nuclear drugs for new targets, as well as delivery and platform technologies. It has already built a radionuclide drug development platform with the help of WuXi AppTec. Round A was led by Sequoia Capital China, with participation from Riverhead Capital, Tianfu Sanjiang Asset Management, Puhua Capital, CTS Capital, Life Park Venture Fund and Shenzhen Jinshen Investment.
Nanjing Frontier Biotechnologies (SHA: 688221) completed a $29 million private placement to secure the development of its novel small molecule for COVID-19, bofutrelvir (FB2001). Bofutrelvir is a SARS-CoV-2 3CL protease inhibitor currently in clinical trial for hospitalized patients requiring post-exposure prophylaxis for COVID-19. Founded in 2013, Frontier is a commercial-stage biopharmaceutical focused on unmet medical needs for HIV treatment and pain management. A total of 19 investors participated in the financing, including Lord Abbett, UBS AG and Aeon Life.
Hangzhou CellOrigin Biotech will collaborate with Qilu Pharma to develop ready-to-use chimeric antigen receptor macrophages (CAR-iMAC) using induced pluripotent stem cells (IPSC) for cancer immunotherapy. CellOrigin focuses on immune cell therapies (macrophages, NK cells) based on genetically modified pluripotent stem cells. He uses metabolomic and transcriptomic analysis as well as CRISPR-Cas9 functional screening of iPSCs to create new ready-to-use allogeneic therapies against cellular cancer. Founded in 1958, Jinan Qilu offers more than 300 products in China. Both companies will contribute to the development of CAR-iMAC candidates.
Vernalis Research has formed a research collaboration with Unison Medicines to design small molecules for an undisclosed and difficult-to-target bacterial site. Vernalis is a Cambridge, UK-based drug discovery company that was acquired by Chengdu HitGen (SHA: 688222) in 2020. Unison, a Cambridge, MA startup, develops new drugs for drug-resistant infections. Vernalis will use its drug discovery technology to find small molecules for the Unison target, which was previously considered non-drug. Unison will fund the work of Vernalis and be responsible for payment of milestones and royalties on all revenue. Vernalis contributed to Unison’s first round of funding.
Tests and approvals
Tianjin CanSino Biologics (OTCPK: CASBF; SHA: 688185; HK: 06185) reported that an aerosol version of its COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use in China as a COVID booster vaccine (see story). CanSino pointed to preliminary study results showing the inhaled vaccine provided immunity after a single dose, but the company did not release detailed efficacy results. The Company’s COVID-19 vaccine, which is delivered by an adenovirus type 5 vector, is 65% effective in preventing all symptomatic COVID-19 disease and 90% effective in preventing severe disease. CanSino has partnered on the COVID vaccine with the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, Academy of Military Medical Sciences.
Nanjing InxMed has initiated a pivotal Phase II trial in China of its lead drug, an oral selective focal adhesion kinase (FAK) inhibitor, in patients with recurrent platinum-resistant ovarian cancer (PROC ). InxMed develops innovative therapies that target drug resistance and metastasis in hard-to-treat solid tumors. The phase II study will test IN10018 in combination with pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (PLD) in patients with PROC. At ASCO 2022, InxMed reported that the combination regimen showed antitumor efficacy and a good safety profile in PROC patients.
Beijing Genor Biopharma (HK:6998) has dosed the first patient in a Phase I/II clinical trial in China of GB261, a CD20/CD3 bispecific antibody, which will enroll patients with lymphoma/leukemia. GB261 is the first T-Cell Engager with ultra-low affinity to bind CD3 and has Fc compatible functions (ADCC and CDC). Genor claims that GB261 inhibits the proliferation of rituximab resistant cancer cells in in vitro assays and in vivo models with a lower level of cytokine release. The trial will enroll patients with relapsed or refractory B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocyte lymphoma.
CASI Pharma (CASI) and Stockhom’s BioInvent (OTCPK: BOVNF; Stockholm: BINV) have administered the first patient in a Phase I trial in China of their novel cancer immunotherapy (see story). The trial will test BI-1206, a first-in-class fully human mAb targeting FcγRIIB, in combination with rituximab for relapsed/refractory non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). In 2020, CASI acquired the Chinese rights to the candidate from BioInvent in a $95 million deal. According to BioVent, FcyRIIB is a unique inhibitory antibody checkpoint that unlocks cancer immunity. CASI is a Maryland company that brings new drugs to China.
Editor’s note: The summary bullet points for this article were chosen by the Seeking Alpha editors.