Ahead of US IPO, Legend Biotech adds $150M, top-tier investors to back CAR-T pipeline
Last month Nanjing Legend Biotech revealed that it sees, and was quietly planning for, a future as a public company in the US, separate but still tied to its former parent, Chinese CRO GenScript. It’s evidently a vision that enticed investors, drawing marquee names for a pre-IPO round.
The Series A fetched a whopping $150.5 million from Hudson Bay Capital Management, Lilly Asia Ventures, Vivo Capital, RA Capital Management and JJDC, the venture arm of J&J. The pharma giant has helped fund Legend’s CAR-T work with the $350 million upfront payment it handed over to partner on the lead BCMA program.
Known as JNJ-4528 or LCAR-B38M, the therapy immediately became the biggest star in J&J’s armamentarium for relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma, just after the anti-CD38 antibody Darzalex. It is now slated for filings in the US and EU in the second half of this year.
GenScript clarified in a previous filing that the spinoff of Legend “is intended to enable operational focus and strategy development,” better align management responsibilities and increase transparency. But the Legend team — complete with its own CEO, Yuan Xu, CSO Frank Fan and a dozen senior execs — would still be consolidated under GenScript Group. Existing GenScript shareholders are expected to own a majority interest in Legend even after its US public debut.
For now, proceeds from Legend’s first independent go at fundraising would continue to push R&D and potential commercialization of its pipeline, as well as expand manufacturing facilities. Its cell therapies for blood cancer span both autologous and allogeneic, with early-stage programs in solid tumors (gastric cancer, pancreatic cancer) as well.