Boast­ing in-li­cense dis­tri­b­u­tion mod­el, Chi­nese EOC Phar­ma bags $32M se­ries B fund­ing for on­col­o­gy prod­ucts

With a new­ly pock­et­ed $32 mil­lion se­ries B, EOC Phar­ma is look­ing to bring po­ten­tial block­buster on­col­o­gy drugs to Chi­na — prod­ucts that it will have hand-picked, de­vel­oped, made and mar­ket­ed, all on the home turf.

The Shang­hai-based bio­phar­ma plans to use the funds to ad­vance its lead pro­grams in­to late-stage de­vel­op­ment in Chi­na with a fo­cus on reg­is­tra­tion stud­ies. This is a big step in the young com­pa­ny’s ef­forts to be­com­ing an “in­te­grat­ed” one-stop shop for de­vel­op­ment, man­u­fac­tur­ing and com­mer­cial­iza­tion, CEO Xi­aom­ing Zou told me.

Xi­aom­ing Zou

There are cur­rent­ly six drugs in the EOC Phar­ma’s pipeline, all of which it in-li­censed from small or glob­al biotechs out­side Chi­na. Ac­cord­ing to Zou, an Am­gen and GSK vet, they most­ly tar­get the largest on­col­o­gy in­di­ca­tions.

The three lead­ing can­di­dates are enti­no­s­tat for breast can­cer (from Waltham, MA-based Syn­dax Biotech); fu­sion pro­tein IMP321, im­munother­a­py tar­get­ing breast can­cer tu­mors af­ter hor­mone ther­a­py (from Aus­tralian Pri­ma Bio­med); and gas­tric can­cer drug tela­tinib (to which EOC Phar­ma ac­quired glob­al rights, from Bay Area ACT Biotech).

“This round is re­al­ly a step for us to get on hope­ful­ly a fast track for de­vel­op­ing the com­pa­ny and the pipeline, our pro­grams in Chi­na,” Zou said. “We see our­selves some­what dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed with some pure R&D-based com­pa­nies — many of them start­ed in Chi­na — we are fo­cus­ing on in-li­cens­ing part­ner­ship-dri­ven mod­el.”

Found­ed in 2015, EOC Phar­ma is a spin­off of Chi­nese phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal mar­ket­ing firm Ed­ding­Pharm. Serv­ing as chief busi­ness of­fi­cer there gave Zou com­mer­cial ex­pe­ri­ence as well as re­la­tion­ships with in­vestors, some of whom, like Se­quoia Chi­na, were big sup­port­ers in this lat­est round. An­oth­er high pro­file backer in the B round was Shan­dong state-owned Taikang In­dus­try De­vel­op­ment Fund, which Zou de­scribes as an emerg­ing big play­er in Chi­nese health care.

EOC Phar­ma’s busi­ness mod­el is rem­i­nis­cent of Zai Lab — which scored a promis­ing IPO mid-Sep­tem­ber — and its de­vel­op­ment con­tin­ues to re­flect the fast-chang­ing reg­u­la­to­ry land­scape in Chi­na. Even­tu­al­ly, EOC Phar­ma plans to use some of its part­ner’s Eu­ro­pean clin­i­cal tri­al da­ta for its Chi­nese drug ap­pli­ca­tion, some­thing that has on­ly been made pos­si­ble in re­cent months.

“This prob­a­bly will last for 18 months, but there are a lot of mov­ing parts right now in Chi­na,” Zou told me. “[The reg­u­la­to­ry re­forms] hap­pened af­ter we kind of have done this round of plan­ning, and so we may end up to be more ag­gres­sive in terms of — or on the time­line, maybe short­en the clin­i­cal stud­ies. That can move the ex­pense ahead of the sched­ule.”

The com­pa­ny cur­rent­ly em­ploys around 80 peo­ple, split among man­u­fac­tur­ing, clin­i­cal/reg­u­la­to­ry, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and ad­min­is­tra­tion de­part­ments. With the new funds, Zou wants to bring in ex­pe­ri­enced clin­i­cal lead­ers to dri­ve the com­pa­ny to the next lev­el.

And this is all part of a big­ger am­bi­tion, Zou em­pha­sized.

“This is a very ac­tive time in Chi­na,” Zou said. “The mar­ket will prob­a­bly go through some con­sol­i­da­tion in the near fu­ture, and we be­lieve we have a good foun­da­tion. We re­al­ly want this round of fi­nanc­ing as a key step for us to get in­to fur­ther growth very soon.”

Arc­turus ex­pands col­lab­o­ra­tion, adding $30M cash; Ku­ra shoots for $100M raise

→  Rare dis­ease play­er Ul­tragenyx $RARE is ex­pand­ing its al­liance with Arc­turus $ARCT, pay­ing $24 mil­lion for eq­ui­ty and an­oth­er $6 mil­lion in an up­front as the two part­ners ex­pand their col­lab­o­ra­tion to in­clude up to 12 tar­gets. “This ex­pand­ed col­lab­o­ra­tion fur­ther so­lid­i­fies our mR­NA plat­form by adding ad­di­tion­al tar­gets and ex­pand­ing our abil­i­ty to po­ten­tial­ly treat more dis­eases,” said Emil Kakkis, the CEO at Ul­tragenyx. “We are pleased with the progress of our on­go­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion. Our most ad­vanced mR­NA pro­gram, UX053 for the treat­ment of Glyco­gen Stor­age Dis­ease Type III, is ex­pect­ed to move in­to the clin­ic next year, and we look for­ward to fur­ther build­ing up­on the ini­tial suc­cess of this part­ner­ship.”

Chica­go biotech ar­gues blue­bird, Third Rock 'killed' its ri­val, pi­o­neer­ing tha­lassemia gene ther­a­py in law­suit

Blue­bird bio $BLUE chief Nick Leschly court­ed con­tro­ver­sy last week when he re­vealed the com­pa­ny’s be­ta tha­lassemia treat­ment will car­ry a jaw-drop­ping $1.8 mil­lion price tag over a 5 year pe­ri­od in the Unit­ed States — mak­ing it the plan­et’s sec­ond most ex­pen­sive ther­a­py be­hind No­var­tis’ $NVS fresh­ly ap­proved spinal mus­cu­lar at­ro­phy ther­a­py, Zol­gens­ma at $2.1 mil­lion. A Chica­go biotech, mean­while, has been fum­ing at the side­lines. In a law­suit filed ear­li­er this month, Er­rant Gene Ther­a­peu­tics al­leged that blue­bird and ven­ture cap­i­tal group Third Rock un­law­ful­ly prised a vi­ral vec­tor, de­vel­oped in part­ner­ship with the Memo­r­i­al Sloan Ket­ter­ing (MSK), from its grasp, and thwart­ed the de­vel­op­ment of its sem­i­nal gene ther­a­py.

Neil Woodford. Woodford Investment Management via YouTube

Wood­ford braces po­lit­i­cal storm as UK fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tors scru­ti­nize fund sus­pen­sion

The shock of Neil Wood­ford’s de­ci­sion to block with­drawals for his flag­ship fund is still rip­pling through the rest of his port­fo­lio — and be­yond. Un­der po­lit­i­cal pres­sure, UK fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tors are now tak­ing a hard look while in­vestors con­tin­ue to flee.

In a re­sponse let­ter to an MP, the Fi­nan­cial Con­duct Au­thor­i­ty re­vealed that it’s opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to the sus­pen­sion fol­low­ing months of en­gage­ment with Link Fund So­lu­tions, which tech­ni­cal­ly del­e­gat­ed Wood­ford’s firm to man­age its funds.

The top 10 block­buster drugs in the late-stage pipeline — Eval­u­ate adds 6 new ther­a­pies to heavy-hit­ter list

Vertex comes in for a substantial amount of criticism for its no-holds-barred tactical approach toward wresting the price it wants for its commercial drugs in Europe. But the flip side of that coin is a highly admired R&D and commercial operation that regularly wins kudos from analysts for their ability to engineer greater cash flow from the breakthrough drugs they create.

Both aspects needed for success in this business are on display in the program backing Vertex’s triple for cystic fibrosis. VX-659/VX-445 + Tezacaftor + Ivacaftor — it’s been whittled down to 445 now — was singled out by Evaluate Pharma as the late-stage therapy most likely to win the crown for drug sales in 5 years, with a projected peak revenue forecast of $4.3 billion.

The latest annual list, which you can see here in their latest world preview, includes a roster of some of the most closely watched development programs in biopharma. And Evaluate has added 6 must-watch experimental drugs to the top 10 as drugs fail or go on to a first approval. With apologies to the list maker, I revamped this to rank the top 10 by projected 2024 sales, instead of Evaluate's net present value rankings.

It's how we roll at Endpoints News.

Here is a quick summary of the rest of the top 10:

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Gilead baits new al­liance with $45M up­front, div­ing in­to the busy pro­tein degra­da­tion field

Gilead is jump­ing on board the pro­tein degra­da­tion band­wag­on. And they’re turn­ing to a low-pro­file Third Rock start­up for the ex­per­tise. But if you were look­ing for a trans­for­ma­tion­al deal to kick up fresh en­thu­si­asm for Gilead, you’ll have to re­main pa­tient.


This one will have a long way to go be­fore they get in­to the clin­ic.

The big biotech said Wednes­day morn­ing that it is pay­ing $45 mil­lion up­front and re­serv­ing a whop­ping $2.3 bil­lion in biotech bucks if San Fran­cis­co-based Nurix can point the way to new can­cer ther­a­pies, as well as drugs for oth­er, un­spec­i­fied dis­eases.

Dave Barrett, Brian Chee, Amir Nashat, Amy Schulman. Polaris

Bob Langer's first port of call — Po­laris Part­ners — maps $400M for ninth fund

Health and tech ven­ture group Po­laris Part­ners, which counts Alec­tor, Al­ny­lam and Ed­i­tas Med­i­cine as part of its port­fo­lio, is set­ting up its ninth fund, rough­ly two years af­ter it closed Po­laris VI­II with $435 mil­lion in the bank, sur­pass­ing its tar­get by $35 mil­lion.

The Boston-based firm, in an SEC fil­ing, said it in­tends to raise $400 mil­lion for the fund. Po­laris — which rou­tine­ly backs com­pa­nies mold­ed out of the work done in the lab of pro­lif­ic sci­en­tist Bob Langer of MIT  — typ­i­cal­ly in­vests ear­ly, and sticks around till com­pa­nies are in the green. Like its peers at Flag­ship and Third Rock, Po­laris is all about cham­pi­oning the lo­cal biotech scene with a steady flow of start­up cash.

John Chiminski, Catalent CEO - File Photo

'It's a growth play': Catal­ent ac­quires Bris­tol-My­er­s' Eu­ro­pean launch pad, ex­pand­ing glob­al CD­MO ops

Catalent is staying on the growth track.

Just two months after committing $1.2 billion to pick up Paragon and take a deep dive into the sizzling hot gene therapy manufacturing sector, the CDMO is bouncing right back with a deal to buy out Bristol-Myers’ central launchpad for new therapies in Europe, acquiring a complex in Anagni, Italy, southwest of Rome, that will significantly expand its capacity on the continent.

There are no terms being offered, but this is no small deal. The Anagni campus employs some 700 staffers, and Catalent is planning to go right in — once the deal closes late this year — with a blueprint to build up the operations further as they expand on oral solid, biologics, and sterile product manufacturing and packaging.

This is an uncommon deal, Catalent CEO John Chiminski tells me. But it offers a shortcut for rapid growth that cuts years out of developing a green fields project. That’s time Catalent doesn’t have as the industry undergoes unprecedented expansion around the world.

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David de Graaf now has his $28.5M launch round in place, build­ing a coen­zyme A plat­form in his lat­est start­up

Long­time biotech ex­ec David de Graaf has the cash he needs to set up the pre­clin­i­cal foun­da­tion for his coen­zyme A me­tab­o­lism com­pa­ny Comet. A few high-pro­file in­vestors joined the ven­ture syn­di­cate to sup­ply Comet with $28.5 mil­lion in launch mon­ey — enough to get it two years in­to the plat­form-build­ing game, with­in knock­ing dis­tance of the clin­ic.

Canaan jumped in along­side ex­ist­ing in­vestor Sofinno­va Part­ners to co-lead the round, with par­tic­i­pa­tion by ex­ist­ing in­vestor INKEF Cap­i­tal and new in­vestor BioIn­no­va­tion Cap­i­tal.

A new num­ber 1 drug? Keytru­da tapped to top the 10 biggest block­busters on the world stage by 2024

Analysts may be fretting about Keytruda’s longterm prospects as a host of rival therapies elbow their way to the market. But the folks at Evaluate Pharma are confident that last year’s $7 billion earner is headed for glory, tapping it to beat out the current #1 therapy Humira as AbbVie watches that franchise swoon over the next 5 years.

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