AstraZeneca steps up its use of Emulate’s ‘organ chip’ tech; Ansun Biopharma’s parainfluenza therapy attracts $85M from Asian VCs

AstraZeneca $AZN is inviting Emulate scientists into its own labs in an endorsement of its organs-on-chips technology. The partners will initially focus on using the liver chip to test safety for some candidates in AstraZeneca’s pipeline, in hopes of generating data usable in a regulatory submission package. Together, they might also work on the functionality of three other chips — imitating a lung tumor, lung, and glomerulus in kidney, respectively — and the accompanying measuring instruments and software. “Working side by side with Emulate scientists will enable us to better develop the platform and may improve our ability to predict adverse and non-adverse effects in humans,” said Mene Pangalos, EVP of AstraZeneca’s Innovative Medicines and Early Development unit. Founded on technology out of the Wyss Institute, Emulate touts its platform as a superior alternative to animal or cells in dishes, more predictive of how drugs would perform in human bodies. The UK pharma giant signed on as early as 2013, followed by deals from Roche and Takeda announced weeks ago.

→ The anti-viral specialists at Ansun BioPharma have garnered $85 million to test its drug for parainfluenza in Phase III study. A number of Asian VCs chipped in for the Series A, which was led by Sinopharm Healthcare Fund and Lilly Asia Ventures, including 3e Bioventures Capital, Lyfe Capital, Yuanming Capital, Matrix Partners China and Oceanpine Capital. Granted both fast track and breakthrough status by the FDA, Ansun’s DAS181 is a recombinant sialidase protein that can block virus entry into respiratory epithelial cells by cleaving a type of virus receptors. That can translate to several applications beyond parainfluenza, such as influenza and metapneumovirus. Sinopharm Capital and Lilly Asia Ventures are each sending in a board member, Xiaoming Yang and Yi Shi, who will be joined by two new directors.

→ Backed by a several high-profile Chinese investors, HiFiBiO Therapeutics says it has rounded up $37.5 million for a Series B round. Sequioa China and Shanghai-based LYFE Capital led the round, backing a biotech with labs in Cambridge, MA and Hanghzhou. The outfit bills itself a top player in developing antibodies found “through single-B-cell screening.” Existing investors including VI Ventures, Nest.Bio Ventures, Legend Star Capital, and Proxima Ventures participated. “With our oversubscribed Series B funding, expanded drug development team and new facilitates on three continents, HiFiBiO Therapeutics is now poised to generate breakthrough immune modulators to address unmet medical needs around the world,” said HiFiBiO Therapeutics CEO Liang Schweizer.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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