Suzhou Ribo Life Science, a Chinese pharmaceutical company innovating in RNA interference (RNAi), has just announced that it will receive over USD 50 million (CNY 470 million) in a Series C+ financing. The investment is led by China’s State-owned Capital Venture Capital Fund, CICC’s Qide Fund and Hillhouse Venture Capital. Since a CNY 203 million C-round financing last December, this Suzhou-based startup has been catching market watchers’ attention as it seeks to explore the potential of small interfering RNA (siRNA) as an ideal biopharmaceutical treatment for rare and severe illness.
This capital bankroll will further facilitate this pharmaceutical innovator to develop more effective micro RNA-based medicines in a variety of chronic diseases. So far, Ribo Life Science has established medical pipelines covering infection, oncology, metabolism, cardiovascular and motor neuron disorders. As shown on its website, several siRNA medicines are in Phase Three, including Hereditary ATTR Amyloidosis, Delayed Graft Function (DGF, of patients with kidney transplantation), and Non-Arteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy (NAION).
Founded in 2007, it has gone through four financing rounds, starting from the CNY 125 million A-round in 2015. With sufficient and stable capital bankroll, the Suzhou-based startup has been able to conduct exploratory research at full-scale, with several patents filed on cutting-edge bio-synthetic technologies, such as siRNA liquid phase synthesis.
RNA interference was discovered in 1998 and was listed as the top of ten scientific achievements by Science in 2002. RNAi is a gene silencing mechanism unique in eukaryotic cells (known as cells that contain a nucleus). This genetic ‘silence’ plays a crucial role in resisting external invasion, keeping genome integrity, controlling cellular differentiation and coordinating organ functions. The critical molecule that supports the efficient mechanism is siRNA (small interfering RNA), which has been keenly studied innovative treatment breakthrough.
The development history of RNAi technology was booming in 2004-2009, when flocks of giant pharmaceuticals coming into this niche field with billions of US dollars. After a short pause lasting till 2012, this technology began to develop, embracing its new era full of application scenarios, with the most notable one being widespread work on the Ebola virus disease in 2014.
Chinese drug makers such as Ribo Life Science also grasped the benefits of the timing, with independent research and innovation, and now are standing by most well-known western giant medicine companies. As one of the few and perhaps the most recognized micro RNA drug provider, Ribo Life Science has established an RNAi-oriented molecule base in the historical city Kunshan, backed up by the local Jiangsu-provincial government.
Meanwhile many Chinese capitals with deep insights in bio-pharmacy have smelled the incredible value of sophisticated small molecule technologies. Chipscreen Biosciences (微芯生物,688321:SH), an early bio-tech player, raised CNY 102 million on Star Board last August. JOINN Biologics (昭衍生物), in the CRO (Contract Research Organization) arena, secured CNY 60 million in Series A last year, joining the domestic boom in bio-tech.