Ab­bas Hus­sain swings from top GSK phar­ma post to pow­er­house Chi­nese pri­vate eq­ui­ty play­er C-Bridge

Near the be­gin­ning of this year Ab­bas Hus­sain an­nounced plans to leave his role as Glax­o­SmithK­line’s phar­ma chief, hand­ing over the job to Luke Miels as new CEO Em­ma Walm­s­ley be­gan to as­sem­ble her own top team. And now Hus­sain has land­ed at C-Bridge Cap­i­tal, a pow­er­house Chi­nese pri­vate eq­ui­ty group which has in­vest­ed heav­i­ly in some promi­nent Asian biotechs.

Hus­sain spent eight years at GSK, build­ing the phar­ma gi­ant in­to the lead vol­ume op­er­a­tion in the drug in­dus­try and rolling out a quo­ta-free sales mod­el in dozens of coun­tries around the world. He start­ed as emerg­ing mar­kets chief, with a big role in clean­ing up a bribery scan­dal in Chi­na capped with a $500 mil­lion fine.

His shift to se­nior part­ner at C-Bridge — af­ter be­ing tapped as a pos­si­ble re­place­ment for GSK CEO An­drew Wit­ty — says a lot about the fast-chang­ing bio­phar­ma world we live in now and Chi­na’s grow­ing role in the in­dus­try.

C-Bridge has gath­ered $700 mil­lion so far to back com­pa­nies which are aimed at bring­ing a wide range of life sci­ences prod­ucts in­to the boom­ing Chi­nese mar­ket. Around the same time Hus­sain was prep­ping his de­par­ture at GSK, C-Bridge was lead­ing a $100 mil­lion mega round for Jinzi Wu’s As­cle­tis, which is in­tro­duc­ing a new hep C com­bo in Chi­na. Two months lat­er the group was tak­ing a lead­ing role in a $150 mil­lion fi­nanc­ing used to merge Tian­jing Bio­phar­ma Tech­nol­o­gy with Tian­jin-based Tianzhen­shi Biotech­nol­o­gy Com­pa­ny, cre­at­ing a biotech with 12 an­ti­bod­ies in the pipeline.

Tian­jing Bio­phar­ma was found­ed by Zang Jing­wu, GSK’s for­mer head of R&D in Chi­na.

Just three months ago C-Bridge closed a $400 mil­lion bio­phar­ma fund, its sec­ond. That was twice the amount the group had to start with in its first fund, high­light­ing the kind of bio­phar­ma cap­i­tal now cours­ing through Asia and Chi­na in par­tic­u­lar.

Hus­sain is com­ing in as C-Bridge builds out its US team, with of­fices in New York, San Diego and Boston. That in­cludes:

→ Sean Cao, ex-Sim­cere busi­ness de­vel­op­ment chief, who will run the Boston of­fice.

→ For­mer Thomas, Mc­N­er­ney & Part­ners part­ner Ja­son Brown, who heads the San Diego of­fice.

→ Michael Key­oung, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor for the US based in New York. He is the for­mer CEO of a com­pa­ny called Genex­ine.

→ And Zhang Tong, a for­mer WuXi AppTec BD ex­ec in Shang­hai now join­ing as a man­ag­ing di­rec­tor in New York.

They’ll be scout­ing the US for new life sci­ences tech­nolo­gies — drugs, de­vices and di­ag­nos­tics, that can be fun­neled through port­fo­lio com­pa­nies in­to Chi­na.

That ba­sic strat­e­gy has helped ad­vance a line­up of Chi­nese biotechs, which have been in-li­cens­ing drugs from key US and Eu­ro­pean com­pa­nies. The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment, though, just sig­naled that it’s will­ing to use da­ta from over­seas drug stud­ies, giv­ing the big for­eign play­ers a di­rect open­ing if they choose to forego a lo­cal part­ner­ship.

“We are thrilled to have Ab­bas join our glob­al team at C-Bridge Cap­i­tal, as he brings an im­pres­sive track record of prof­itable growth across unique and di­verse mar­kets,” said Fu Wei, CEO of C- Bridge Cap­i­tal. “Ab­bas is a valu­able ad­di­tion to our team, which is fo­cused on iden­ti­fy­ing emerg­ing in­dus­try lead­ers across biotech­nol­o­gy, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, med­ical de­vices, and in vit­ro di­ag­nos­tics to bring glob­al in­no­va­tion in­to Chi­na.”


Im­age: Bloomberg, Get­ty

A fa­vorite in Alex­ion’s C-suite is leav­ing, and some mighty sur­prised an­a­lysts aren’t the least bit hap­py about it

Analysts hate to lose a biotech CFO they’ve come to trust and admire — especially if they’re being blindsided by a surprise exit.

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David Grainger [file photo]

'Dis­con­nect the bas­tard­s' — one biotech's plan to break can­cer cell­s' uni­fied de­fens­es

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the current gladiators of cancer treatment, but they come with well-known limitations and side-effects. The emergence of immunotherapy — a ferocious new titan in oncologist’s toolbox — takes the brakes off the immune system to kill cancer cells with remarkable success in some cases, but the approach is not always effective. What makes certain forms of cancer so resilient? Scientists may have finally pieced together a tantalizing piece of the puzzle, and a new biotech is banking on a new approach to fill the gap.

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While No­var­tis ban­ish­es Zol­gens­ma scan­dal scars — Bio­gen goes on a Spin­raza 'of­fen­sive'

While Novartis painstakingly works to mop up the stench of the data manipulation scandal associated with its expensive gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Zolgensma— rival Biogen is attempting to expand the use of its SMA therapy, Spinraza. 

The US drugmaker $BIIB secured US approval for Spinraza for use in the often fatal genetic disease in 2016. The approval covered a broad range of patients with infantile-onset (most likely to develop Type 1) SMA. 

Jason Kelly. Mike Blake/Reuters via Adobe

Eye­ing big ther­a­peu­tic push, Gink­go bags $290M to build a cell pro­gram­ming em­pire

Ginkgo Bioworks is on a roll. Days after publicizing a plan to nurture new startups via partnerships with accelerators Y Combinator and Petri, the Boston biotech says it has raised another $290 million for its cell programming platform to reach further and wider.

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UP­DAT­ED: Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi to un­veil bill for fed­er­al­ly ne­go­ti­at­ed drug prices

After months of buzz from both sides of the aisle, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will today introduce her plan to allow the federal government to negotiate prices for 250 prescription drugs, setting up a showdown with a pharmaceutical industry working overtime to prevent it.

The need to limit drug prices is a rare point of agreement between President Trump and Democrats, although the president has yet to comment on the proposal and will likely face pressure to back a more conservative option or no bill at all. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is reportedly lobbying his fellow party members on a more modest proposal he negotiated with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden in July.

Jeff Kindler's Cen­trex­ion re­news bid to make pub­lic de­but

Jeffrey Kindler’s plan to take his biotech — which is developing a slate of non-opioid painkillers — public, is back on.

The Boston based company, led by former Pfizer $PFE chief Kindler, originally contemplated a $70 million to $80 million IPO last year— but eventually postponed that strategy. On Wednesday, the company revived its bid to make a public debut in a filing with the SEC — although no pricing details were disclosed.

It’s fi­nal­ly over: Bio­gen, Ei­sai scrap big Alzheimer’s PhI­I­Is af­ter a pre­dictable BACE cat­a­stro­phe rais­es safe­ty fears

Months after analysts and investors called on Biogen and Eisai to scrap their BACE drug for Alzheimer’s and move on in the wake of a string of late-stage failures and rising safety fears, the partners have called it quits. And they said they were dropping the drug — elenbecestat — after the independent monitoring board raised concerns about…safety.

We don’t know exactly what researchers found in this latest catastrophe, but the companies noted in their release that investigators had determined that the drug was flunking the risk/benefit analysis.

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Zachary Hornby. Boundless

'A fourth rev­o­lu­tion in can­cer ther­a­pies': ARCH-backed Bound­less Bio flash­es big check, makes big­ger promis­es in de­but

It was the cellular equivalent of opening your car door and finding an active, roaring engine in the driver seat.

Scientists learned strands of DNA could occasionally appear outside of its traditional home in the nucleus in the 1970s, when they appeared as little, innocuous circles on microscopes; inexplicable but apparently innate. But not until UC San Diego’s Paul Mischel published his first study in Science in 2014 did researchers realize these circles were not only active but potentially overactive and driving some cancer tumors’ superhuman growth.

Scott Gottlieb, AP Images

Scott Got­tlieb is once again join­ing a team that en­joyed good times at the FDA un­der his high-en­er­gy stint at the helm

Right after jumping on Michael Milken’s FasterCures board on Monday, the newly departed FDA commissioner is back today with news about another life sciences board post that gives him a ringside chair to cheer on a lead player in the real-world evidence movement — one with very close ties to the FDA.

Aetion is reporting this morning that Gottlieb is joining their board, a group that includes Mohamad Makhzoumi, a general partner at New Enterprise Associates, where Gottlieb returned after stepping out of his role at the FDA 2 years after he started.

Gottlieb — one of the best connected execs in biopharma — knows this company well. As head of FDA he championed the use of real-world evidence to help guide drug developers and the agency in gaining greater efficiencies, which helped set up Aetion as a high-profile player in the game.

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