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.