Boyu Capital helps point Celgene-partnered Antengene down a quick path to commercialization

Shanghai-based Antengene has ushered in the first biotech mega-round of the year, designed to fuel a quick commercial turnaround of in-licensed cancer drugs.

The $120 million Series B marks a significant boost for the young biotech, which was founded in April 2017 on a deal with Celgene $CELG, and quite possibly the last financing round before Antengene heads to an IPO — according to previous comments by CEO Jay Mei.

Boyu Capital led the round alongside FountainVest, with help from Series A leader Qiming Venture Partners, founding investor Celgene, as well as WuXi Corporate Venture Fund and Taikang.

Yanling Cao

“We view in-licensing of first-in-class/best-in-class drug candidates as an effective solution to the unmet clinical needs in China,” said Boyu managing director Yanling Cao in a statement. “In addition, we are very impressed with the progress that Antengene is making and the pipeline they are building.”

Aside from Celgene’s TORC1/2 inhibitor — now dubbed ATG008 — Antengene’s pipeline includes another lead program in-licensed from Karyopharm in a partnership that covered three other early-stage assets. ATG-010, or selinexor, is in Phase III trials for multiple myeloma and liposarcoma.

While the cash infusion will go a long way in funding the later-stage development of these assets, further beefing up the company’s pipeline and preparing for a potential commercial launch, an IPO — with a 50/50 chance of falling in the US and Hong Kong — could be looming in the next 12 months.

“We need to be ready,” Mei told a group of reporters at the BIIS conference organized by Endpoints News and PharmCube last October. “The market doesn’t wait for companies. Companies must catch market opportunities.”

Antengene is also building a 160,000-plus square feet manufacturing site in Shaoxing, China to supply its own clinical and commercial drugs.

Image: Jay Mei at the Biopharma Innovation and Investment Summit 2018. ENDPOINTS NEWS, PHARMCUBE

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