Deals and Financings
Shanghai Everest Medicines (HK: 1952) returned rights for Trodelvy (sacituzumab govitecan) to Immunomedics, now a subsidiary of Gilead Sciences (GILD), in an agreement worth up to $455 million ($280 million upfront) (see story). In 2009, Everest acquired rights to the Trop-2 ADC candidate in a $835 million deal ($65 million upfront). Two months ago, Everest was approved to launch Trodelvy in China as a third-line therapy for metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). Everest will receive $280 million in upfront payments and up to $175 million in future milestones. The company will be released from paying $710 million in remaining milestones under the Immunomedics deal, indicating Everest has paid $155 million to Immunomedics/Gilead to date.
Nanchang Jemincare out-licensed global rights for its prostate cancer candidate to Genentech in a $650 million deal (see story). The androgen receptor degrader, JMKX002992, is aimed at patients who are resistant to existing therapies. Genentech will pay $60 million upfront, $590 million in milestones, royalties on sales, and it will be responsible for development costs. Four years ago, Jemincare started developing novel drugs and now has a portfolio of eight biotech and 16 small molecule candidates. Previously, it announced two other out-licensings from its portfolio. Genentech is a subsidiary of Switzerland’s Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY).
Shanghai’s Bennu Biotherapeutics closed a $15 million Angel+ financing round to support its novel T-cell development programs. Founded in 2021, Bennu plans to take cell therapy beyond CAR-T drugs to include T cell types such as TIL, TCR-T and Treg. Although CAR-T has had great success in hematological tumors, it faces several clinical challenges overall. Bennu expects to aim its T cell drugs at solid tumor cancers and autoimmune diseases. The financing was led by INCE Capital with Life Science Park Innovation Fund and Witruth Capital participating.
Guangdong Wyze Biotech closed a $9 million Series A+ financing to develop its off-the-shelf immune cell products based on double-negative T cells (DNT). Wyze completed a $21.5 million Series A funding in 2021. DNT cells are a relatively rare subset of peripheral T cells (about 5%) that are CD3 positive but CD4 and CD8 negative. Wyze expects them to be effective therapies for inflammation, immune disease and cancer indications. In late 2021, the company was approved to start a China Phase I trial of its lead DNT therapy in r/r acute myelogenous leukemia patients.
GenoImmune Therapeutics, a Wuhan company founded by China’s gene sequencing company BGI, closed a funding round to support its immuno-cell therapy products. The company’s core technologies include its AI-driven neoantigen technology, a GMP cell preparation platform and mRNA tumor vaccines aimed at solid tumors including melanoma, lung cancer and colorectal cancer. Using its AI-based screening, GenoImmune can identify novel tumor antigens that are used in T-Cell and Neo-T cell therapies. In previous $15+ million rounds, the company attracted Hillhouse, ForeBright and Wuhan East-Lake Venture Capital as investors.
Trials and Approvals
Shanghai IASO Bio reported China’s NMPA approved its IND for an injected BCMA CAR-T therapy for patients with Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorder (NMOSD), an autoimmune disease caused by demyelination of the central nervous system. The IND application was based on clinical data from an investigator-initiated clinical study. Equecabtagene Autoleucel was safe and improved symptoms in all 12 patients. Neuromyelitis optica, which primarily affects the eye nerves (optic neuritis) and the spinal cord (myelitis), is characterized by outbreaks that can cause permanent damage. IASO develops cellular therapeutics and antibody drugs.
Accutar Biotechnology was approved to start China trials of its oral chimeric degrader candidate in patients with metastatic Castration Resistant Prostate Cancer. The company’s AC0176 targets androgen receptor protein. Accutar, a New Jersey-Shanghai biotech, uses a hybrid AI approach for drug discovery based on the physical and chemical nature of biologic systems – computational drug design followed by wet lab validation. The IND approval is the third for Accutar this year: earlier, the company was approved to start a similar trial of AC0176 in the US and a China trial of AC0682 for estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer.
Beijing’s SinocellTech (SHA: 688520) reported that its anti-CD20 McAb, ripertamab, proved non-inferiority to Genentech’s (OTCQX:RHHBY) rituximab (Rituxan) in a China Phase III trial (see story). The trial enrolled 364 patients with primary diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). The Objective Response Rate was 94% in both cohorts, with safety events also very similar. In 2018, SinocellTech out-licensed rights for ripertamab to CSPC Pharma (OTCPK:CSPCY) in a deal worth up to $98 million plus sales milestones. SinocellTech’s pipeline consists of 23 products, including 21 novel differentiated drugs and two biosimilars.
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