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.