Left to right: Michael Vazquez, Jun Wang, ZK Wan and Jarod Chen (Lynk Pharmaceuticals)

Backed by Eli Lil­ly, a lit­tle-known and se­cre­tive Chi­nese biotech fills the tank as it heads to the clin­ic

A Chi­nese biotech backed by Lil­ly Asia Ven­tures just got some new cash to throw around.

Lynk Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals pulled in $50 mil­lion in a re­cent­ly com­plet­ed Se­ries B, the biotech an­nounced Fri­day, a lit­tle over three years af­ter launch. The com­pa­ny plans to use the funds to sup­port Phase I and Phase II stud­ies for mul­ti­ple pipeline pro­grams, though it didn’t spec­i­fy for which.

“Since the es­tab­lish­ment of Lynk Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, we have been ad­vanc­ing our projects with ef­fi­cient ex­e­cu­tion, and we have made sig­nif­i­cant progress in just three and a half years,” CEO Zhao-Kui Wan said in a state­ment.

Al­so par­tic­i­pat­ing in the round were New Al­liance Cap­i­tal and Hangzhou HE­DA Bi­o­log­i­cal Med­i­cine Ven­ture Cap­i­tal Part­ner­ship, as well as orig­i­nal share­hold­ers Leg­end Cap­i­tal and Med-Fine Cap­i­tal.

Lynk was found­ed by a quar­tet of phar­ma vet­er­ans, with for­mer ex­ecs from Pfiz­er, J&J, Mer­ck and Sinopharm team­ing up to found the com­pa­ny. The team start­ed off with a $10 mil­lion an­gel in­vest­ment from a group of Chi­nese VC firms, in­clud­ing Sinopharm’s ven­ture arm and Kaitai Cap­i­tal.

Since then, it’s been a steady march to­ward the clin­ic for Wan and his col­leagues, but things be­gan re­al­ly heat­ing up in 2020. In April of last year, Lynk out-li­censed one of its pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams to an un­named bid­der, net­ting near­ly $200 mil­lion in up­front cash and promised mile­stones pay­ments.

Lat­er that Ju­ly, Lynk brought in a new can­di­date through a sep­a­rate deal. Agree­ing to a li­cens­ing deal with Kobe Uni­ver­si­ty in Japan, the biotech signed on to de­vel­op RAS in­hibitors with new mech­a­nisms of ac­tion, in the hopes of at­tack­ing a “decades-old un­drug­gable tar­get,” Wan said at the time.

So far, the biotech has shep­herd­ed three pro­grams past the IND-en­abling stage, two in im­munol­o­gy and one in on­col­o­gy. The com­pa­ny isn’t say­ing much else be­yond that, on­ly not­ing it’s shoot­ing for hu­man tri­als in the Fri­day re­lease.

More re­cent­ly, Lynk has be­gun dis­clos­ing the names and char­ac­ter­is­tics of some of its pro­grams. In June of this year, the biotech an­nounced it had re­ceived its third ap­proval from Chi­nese reg­u­la­tors to be­gin tri­als. That spe­cif­ic ex­per­i­men­tal drug, known as LNK01003, is a ki­nase in­hibitor tar­get­ing in­flam­ma­to­ry bow­el dis­ease.

And ear­li­er this month, the biotech dosed its first pa­tient for a sec­ond pro­gram, LNK01002, be­ing eval­u­at­ed to treat pri­ma­ry myelofi­bro­sis and sec­ondary myelofi­bro­sis in­duced by poly­cythemia ve­ra or pri­ma­ry throm­bo­cy­to­sis. That study is an open-la­bel Phase I, and the can­di­date is a triple-ki­nase in­hibitor si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly tar­get­ing dri­vers of PMF and PV/ET-MF.

M&A: a crit­i­cal dri­ver for sus­tain­able top-line growth in health­care

2021 saw a record $600B in healthcare M&A activity. In 2022, there is an anticipated slowdown in activity, however, M&A prospects remain strong in the medium to long-term. What are future growth drivers for the healthcare sector? Where might we see innovations that drive M&A? RBC’s Andrew Callaway, Global Head, Healthcare Investment Banking discusses with Vito Sperduto, Global Co-Head, M&A.

15 LGBTQ lead­ers in bio­phar­ma; Paul Stof­fels’ Gala­pa­gos re­vamp; As­traZeneca catch­es up in AT­TR; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

A return to in-person conferences also marks a return to on-the-ground reporting. My colleagues Beth Synder Bulik and Nicole DeFeudis were on-site at Cannes Lions, bringing live coverage of pharma’s presence at the ad festival — accompanied by photos from Clara Bui, our virtual producer, that bring you right to the scene. You can find a recap (and links to all the stories) below.

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Abortion-rights protesters regroup and protest following Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Fol­low­ing SCO­TUS de­ci­sion to over­turn abor­tion pro­tec­tions, AG Gar­land says states can't ban the abor­tion pill

Following the Supreme Court’s historic decision on Friday to overturn Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years, Attorney General Merrick Garland sought to somewhat reassure women that states will not be able to ban the prescription drug sometimes used for abortions.

Following the decision, the New England Journal of Medicine also published an editorial strongly condemning the reversal, saying it “serves American families poorly, putting their health, safety, finances, and futures at risk.”

AstraZeneca's new Evusheld direct to consumer campaign aims to reach more immunocompromised patients.

As­traZeneca de­buts first con­sumer cam­paign for its Covid-19 pro­phy­lac­tic Evusheld — and a first for EUA drugs

AstraZeneca’s first consumer ad for Evusheld is also a first for drugs that have been granted emergency use authorizations during the pandemic.

The first DTC ad for a medicine under emergency approval, the Evusheld campaign launching this week aims to raise awareness among immunocompromised patients — and spur more use.

Evusheld nabbed emergency authorization in December, however, despite millions of immunocompromised people looking for a solution and now more widespread availability of the drug.

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Yong Dai, Frontera Therapeutics CEO

Scoop: Lit­tle-known Or­biMed-backed biotech clos­es $160M round to start gene ther­a­py tri­al

Frontera Therapeutics, a China and US biotech, has closed a $160 million Series B and received regulatory clearance to test its first gene therapy stateside, Endpoints News has learned.

Led by the largest shareholder, OrbiMed, the biotech has secured $195 million total since its September 2019 founding, according to an email reviewed by Endpoints. The lead AAV gene therapy program is for an undisclosed rare eye disease, according to the source.

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Spanish Prime Minister Pédro Sanchez and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

EU to launch vac­cine de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing part­ner­ship with Latin Amer­i­can and Caribbean coun­tries

While European companies, including BioNTech, are focused on increasing vaccine access to African countries by setting up vaccine manufacturing facilities, the European Union is looking westward to Latin America and the Caribbean.

Speaking at a press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Pédro Sanchez, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said that the EU is launching a new initiative for vaccines and medicines manufacturing in Latin America, to get drugs to Latin America and the Caribbean faster.

DEM BioPharma CEO David Donabedian (L) and executive chair Jan Skvarka

Long­wood sets an­oth­er 'don't eat me' biotech in­to gear with help of for­mer Tril­li­um CEO Jan Skvar­ka

Jonathan Weissman and team are out with a cancer-fighting biotech riding the appetite for those so-called “don’t eat me” and “eat me” signals.

The scientific co-founder — alongside fellow Whitehead Institute colleague Kipp Weiskopf and Stanford biologist Michael Bassik — has launched DEM BioPharma with incubator Longwood Fund and a crop of other investors.

In all, the nascent, 10-employee biotech has $70 million to bankroll hematology- and solid tumor-based programs, including a lead asset that could enter human trials in two to three years, CEO David Donabedian told Endpoints News.

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GSK says its drug for chron­ic hep B could ‘lead to a func­tion­al cure’ — but will it be alone or in com­bi­na­tion?

GSK, newly branded and soon-to-be demerged, shared interim results from its Phase II trial on its chronic hepatitis B treatment, one that it says has the “potential to lead to a functional cure.”

At a presentation at the EASL International Liver Congress, GSK shared that in around 450 patients who received its hep B drug bepirovirsen for 24 weeks, just under 30% had hepatitis B surface antigen and viral DNA levels that were too low to detect.

De­spite a slow start to the year for deals, PwC pre­dicts a flur­ry of ac­tiv­i­ty com­ing up

Despite whispers of a busy year for M&A, deal activity in the pharma space is actually down 30% on a semi-annualized basis, according to PwC’s latest report on deal activity. But don’t rule out larger deals in the second half of the year, the consultants said.

PwC pharmaceutical and life sciences consulting solutions leader Glenn Hunzinger expects to see Big Pharma companies picking up earlier stage companies to try and fill pipeline gaps ahead of a slew of big patent cliffs. Though a bear market continues to maul the biotech sector, Hunzinger said recent deals indicate that pharma companies are still paying above current trading prices.