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Jun 17, 2020 12:44 pm ·

ImmVira Closes Series B of USD 58 Million Led by HG

ImmVira announced the closure of a Series B of USD 58 million this week. This deal was led by HG Capital, with participation from Apricot Capital and Cowin Capital, followed by the sequential investor Hillhouse Venture Capital. The Shenzhen-based startup will lever this bankroll to push the current five product pipelines, early-stage R&D in innovative drugs and potential cross-border cooperation. ImmVira’s first product, the oncolytic herpes simplex virus (oHSV) T3011 (given via intratumor injection), was granted the FDA’s implied approval this May. It is the first Chinese oncolytic virus vaccine that has ever been approved by FDA IND and is also the first one to be studied in the clinical stage in China, the US and Australia. Founded in 2015, this company was established by six scientists from the field of tumor oncolysis and immunity in the US. The Shenzhen-based startup has five ongoing pipelines with full coverage of all kinds of oncolytic tumors, including intravenous injection, intra-tumor injection, malignant brain tumors, oncolytic virus resistant to tumors and hematologic tumors. Among them, the pipelines specific to lung cancer and liver cancer are steadily being pushed forward. More and more product lines are expected to move into the clinical stages. Grace Zhou, the CEO and CSO of ImmVira, noted that the funding round is seen as a milestone for ImmVira to move from pre-clinical R&D to the clinical stage. “ImmVira has rich experience in the field of oncolytic viruses and has been dedicated to researching and developing the herpes oncolytic viruses and target oncolytic viruses,” says Mr. Zeng Zhiqiang, the managing partner of HG Capital. “Meanwhile, the rising strategy of China’s Grand Bay Area provides tremendous potential opportunities for this startup.” Indeed, biotechnology is no longer a scarce technological advantage solely dominated by foreign companies. Many Chinese startups backed up by many experienced scientists and researchers are continually seeking opportunities, and many have successfully hit an IPO even without profiting yet from the pipelines, such as I-Mab Bio (IMAB:Nasdaq), Burning Rock (BNR:Nasdq) and Legend Biotech (LEGN:Nasdaq). Equipped with China’s advantageous infrastructure and labor costs, made-in-China biotechs can explore more medical solutions to cure deadly diseases for the benefit of humankind.

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Sep 19, 2019 02:11 pm ·

A Wave of Fresh Price Cuts Hits China’s Generic Drugs Scene

Jiangsu Public Resource Trading Platform -a regulatory bureau responsible for the public biddings- issued a statement on September 4th, adjusting the prices of 10 new generic medicines. The adjustment marked yet another major price cut by the Chinese regulators following the "4+7" reform, a rule issued by the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) at the end of 2018 which changed the rules of the game in China’s biopharmaceutical industry. The term 4+7 refers to the 11 cities that the pilot program has been initiated in, was set to stimulate the decentralized tender system for the generic drugs by awarding the contract to the lowest bidder – i.e., the pharmaceutical manufacturers with the lowest bidding prices get the rights of distribution of selected medicines in these 11 Chinese cities. The list includes, among others, Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. Since its inception, the bulk-buy policy has caused a freefall of up to 90% for some of these medicines’ prices, creating a panicked atmosphere in the markets. What’s more, The Chinese pharmaceutical industry is on the brink of another price cut wave, according to iyiou.com, the sister publication of EqualOcean. The new regulatory landscape has also affected multinational companies, mostly positively. The number of foreign drug applications submitted in China from 2016 to 2017 surged threefold from 13 to 37, reported Pharmaceutical Technology. In 2018, NMPA upgraded another policy, accepting overseas clinical trial data for applications in the mainland. The new policy would even affect online pharmacies in the sense that they need to negotiate more with novel drug producers, of which a significant number are foreign enterprises. Tiger Global backed Chinese B2B pharmaceutical trading platform Yaoshibang (药师帮) represents one of those companies that would presumably update its marketing approach in the near future.  As NMPA continuously ramps up its efforts to push down generic medicine prices, China’s biopharma field will bring about new paradigms, urging generic drug producers to upgrade their operating models, leaning towards producing more novel drugs. In future, China may create its own competitive novel drug developers. Beijing-based Jacobio (加科思), and I-Mab Biopharma (天境生物), a biotech startup from Shanghai that was said to go public soon, are the examples of China’s prospective novel drug developers in the near future. 

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Sep 8, 2019 08:00 pm ·

Healthcare Industry Maintains Agility as China's PE Scene Cools Down

The healthcare industry led PE transactions for the second quarter of 2019 in China, with around CNY 18.8 billion in transactions in total. Even as Chinese primary market investments have lost their upward trend since 2016, the healthcare industry remains an exceptional field that has retained its attractiveness for many investors. Healthcare was followed by the Information Technology (IT) and Internet fields, with CNY 17.3 and 11.5 billion, respectively. Healthcare PE also boasted the highest average transactions for the same period, PEdaily reported.  Chinese healthcare PE analysts refer to the industry as the “Evergreen Industry” (长青行业). However, the viability of this statement may be even beyond China: Global healthcare PE activity rose to record levels yet again in 2018. The total disclosed value of deals reached USD 63.1 billion, the highest recorded since 2006, and the deal count grew to 316 from 265 in 2017, according to Bain & Company. During the first half of 2019, investor attention was drawn towards Chinese healthcare services with a medical aesthetic company's IPO submission in the US, So-Young Int. (SY: NASDAQ). There are several more firms from China's health scene that are rumoured to be considering filing in the US.  Shanghai-based drug developer, I-Mab Biopharma, and Medical AI developer Yitu Technology are two other companies that said to be preparing to file in the US; neither company explicitly rejected the speculations.  During the first half of 2019, JD.com Inc. (NASDAQ: JD) subsidiary raised over USD 1 billion from CPE China Fund and CICC Capital in its Series A financing round, marking one of the largest transactions of the period.  Changing demographics and continuously reforming social policies are bringing about a feasible ground to cultivate new fields within healthcare services. China is catching up in several businesses with the world leaders, that are the European countries and the US in healthcare.  "China’s Medicare or Healthcare Insurance sector is simply primitive and inefficient, which will be regulated by the government for better. We are closely following and actively engaging in those data-driven healthcare insurance companies to seize this very critical industry. It is critical because the rest of the Healthcare industry is tied to Medicare." said Sun Wei, partner of a Shanghai-based healthcare private equity.  Viable fundamental macro indicators one side, relatively higher returns on the other: China's healthcare private equity players are operating in an optimistic atmosphere amidst global uneasiness of capital markets.

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Aug 7, 2019 03:45 pm ·

Biotech Startup Huadao Raises CNY 100 Mn to Develop CAR-T

NKY Medical Holdings Ltd (300109: SZ) injected CNY 100 million into a Biotech startup in Shanghai, titled Huadao Bio-Medicine (华道生物), in a move to forge ahead in the CAR-T development race. CAR-T, yet another technique in utilizing cell therapy for cancer, is regarded as one of the most sophisticated therapies in cancer and has attracted significant PE/VC investment since 2018, in China.  Huadao, a latecomer for China's immuno-oncology field, was established in September 2017 under the motto "Affordable cell therapy for China's middle class," and received its Series A financings from New Horizon Capital (新天域资本) and Oceanpine Capital (海松医疗基金). Indeed, several others trying to conquer the same field in China. I-Mab Biopharma (天境生物), a Shanghai-based biopharmaceutical startup, which was rumoured to go public in 2019, has been one of the most assertive privately-held immuno-oncology firms in China. Over three rounds, the company has raised USD 370 million as of August 2019; and is seeking up to $40 million in private funding round, Bloomberg speculated.  However, China is lagging in the development of CAR-T. Biopharma projects from Europe, Israel and the USA are dominating the scene since the beginning of 2013. Between 2013 and 2015, the public market has shown its interest in advanced therapeutics stocks, in which most of them are developing CAR-T: the companies have raised over USD 1 billion in their IPOs, the report revealed.  The investor, NKY Medical, is a publicly-traded chemical producer on the Shenzhen bourse and it is operating in numerous arms, including biopharma. Its share price dropped around 5% after the latest trade and exchange rate disputes. Huadao claimed to create China's first fully-independent CAR- T Industrial transformation and production technology platform with entirely-owned intellectual properties. Indeed, the company is targeting an area where there is vast room to improve within the mainland.

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May 8, 2019 07:52 pm ·

I-Mab Tailors its Immunotherapy Products for China

Immunotherapy returned to the public with a positive attitude because of the attention and recognition of the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2018; its public perspective in China was deeply influenced by the WEI Zexi (魏则西) incident. Immunotherapy, as its name implies, is the treatment of cancer by activating the original ability of T cells and the immune system to fight against cancer cells. Currently, the main therapies include immunological checkpoint inhibitors, CAR-T cell therapy, and cancer vaccines. CAR-T cell therapy can transform human T cells to recognize tumour antigens and stimulate the immune system to remove cancer cells. Relevant research has entered the commercial market and its effectiveness has been constantly excavated.  As immunotherapy popularized and matures, I-Mab Biopharma (天境生物) thrives its business and moves closer to its IPO. I-Mab-Biopharma is a biopharmaceutical research and development company located in Shanghai, focusing on tumour treatment and autoimmune diseases. (Find more on the 2019 Technology Trends Report in China) Founded in 2016, I-Mab is valued at around half a billion USD from its latest series C financing of USD 220 million in June 2018. I-Mab has entered several R&D collaborations with clinical research institutes for developing novel immunotherapy. The company is at the dawn of its IPO. Other sizable and innovative Chinese startups are Shanghai Cell Therapy Group (上海细胞治疗集团  ) with USD 74 million and Jacobio Pharma (加科思 ) with USD 55 million total fundings. However, I-Mab is the biggest and the most immunotherapy focused company amongst them. The company's unique value proposition is its China tailored immunotherapy portfolio which will be commercialized after 2021.  China is the second biggest immunotherapy contributor globally by the number of institutional initiative; however, the country's cancer problem is much more severe than what is provided as a solution. I-Mab wants to position itself within this landscape.

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Apr 8, 2019 06:00 pm ·

I-Mab, Biodextris, BWH, and Nhwa Come into Immuno Collaboration

  Source from PR Newswire, Biodextris, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), I-Mab (天境生物), Jiangsu Nhwa Pharmaceutical (江苏恩华药业, Nhwa Pharma) signed the collaborative research agreement in Boston MA, U.S. on April 5th, 2019. The collaboration aims to develop a novel immuno-stimulatory therapy for neurological disorders. The cross-border collaboration includes two clinical research institutes, BWH and I-Mab, and two pharmaceutical companies, Biodextris and Nhwa Pharma. Researchers and clinicians at the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at BWH will take the responsibility of biomarkers’ discoveries and validations, preclinical research, and early clinical studies. Biodextris, a Canada-based pharmaceutical company, will be responsible for CMC (chemistry, manufacturing, and controls) process for the novel therapy. Nhwa and I-Mab will provide financial, technical, regulatory, and other business support for the R&D, and even potential further commercialization. I-Mab is a biopharmaceutical startup founded in 2016, which was valued at USD 1.1 billion from its latest series C financing of USD 220 million in June 2018. I-Mab has entered several R&B collaborations with clinical research institutes for developing novel immunotherapy. The collaboration will study and use nasal immune modulator as an approach to treat certain neurologic disorders. Each party in the collaboration will use its advantages to accelerate the R&D process. BWH, a clinical research institute with a profound reputation and years of accumulated clinical research experience, will take the lead for research and analysis. Biodextris and Nhwa are experienced pharmaceutical manufacturers headquartered in Canada and China respectively. Nhwa is well-known in China for its CMC for neurologic therapeutics production and it is a Shenzhen Stock Exchange listed company. Yet, the lead of the research is BWH, and I-Mab plays a supportive role in the R&D process. BWH is a clinical research institute and able to conduct clinical trials relying on its solid foundation of research abilities and years of clinical trial experience, while I-Mab lacks the experience on this side. Though collaborated with several pharmaceutical companies and hospitals, I-Mab is still a young incomer in the healthcare area waiting to build its own reputation. The cross-border collaboration helps to lower the R&D costs and accelerated the process whether in clinical research status or potential commercialization stage. With experienced contractors’ participation, the new therapy’s materials have better support and can simultaneously approve for FDA and CFDA’s review when there is any progress.

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Dec 5, 2018 03:03 pm ·

I-Mab and TRACON Become Strategic Partners for Immuno-Oncology Programs

I-Mab and TRACON Become Strategic Partners for Immuno-Oncology Programs On 29 November 2018, I-Mab Biopharma (I-Mab) and TRACON Pharmaceuticals announced strategic partnerships for multiple immuno-oncology programs. I-Mab, founded in 2016, is a China-based clinical stage biopharmaceutical company exclusively focused on the development of innovative biologics in immuno-oncology and autoimmune diseases. I-Mab R&D team is led by ZANG Jingwu (臧敬五), a venerable biopharmaceutical scientist that has published papers as the first author on Science and Lancet. Under his leading, I-Mab is under developing biologics in immune-oncology and autoimmune areas. After raising USD 220 million in series C, I-Mab is well-recognized by the capital market. By far, 30% of the global medicine costs is generated in Asia, and the percentage will increase corresponding to regional healthcare service development. According to WHO’s prediction, the oncological therapy market size will reach USD 150 billion in 2020, which is 40% more than the data in 2015. The increased size is essentially contributed by the ascending number of cancer patients in China and India. In China, 4 million patients will be diagnosed with cancer annually. The uprising demand for cancer therapy pushes the R&D progress of biopharmaceutics companies. TRACON and I-Mab’s cooperation follows the market trend and with funding from both sides, the immuno-oncology programs seem to be a win-win for both China and the US’s tumor patients and biopharmaceutics industry. Biopharmaceutics are among the most sophisticated achievements in modern science. The complex and huge structure of drugs invented with improvements in lowered side effects and high efficacy. One of I-Mab’s series B’s investor, Tasly Pharma(天士力) is a Chinese pharmaceutical company listed in Hongkong Exchange with a market value of nearly USD 2 billion. Indeed, China’s pharmaceutical market size is expanding. The investment in new drug R&D increases and is yet to satisfy the market. The sophistication of biopharmaceuticals costs accordingly, and the torsion between drug price and drug costs never goes easy. The demand of affordability is a paradox to for move biopharma from the scientific front line into the business mainstream.