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Lan Huang, BeyondSpring CEO

Play­ing a sur­pris­ing­ly hot hand, Be­yond­Spring nails a $200M Chi­na deal in wake of a piv­otal suc­cess

BeyondSpring has been on a roll lately.

Just a few weeks ago, the New York-based biotech shocked investors and analysts with how effective the company’s molecule, plinabulin, was on cancer patients’ longevity. Now, the biotech has forged a deal with a major player in the Asian market for the drug.

BeyondSpring announced this morning a commercialization and co-development agreement between its Chinese subsidiary Wanchunbulin and China’s Jiangsu Hengrui Pharmaceuticals.

Bo Ying, Abogen CEO (Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University)

Chi­na's Abo­gen, a small mR­NA up­start, sets a biotech record with mam­moth $700M Se­ries C

A little-known startup from China shocked the biotech world Thursday with a record-breaking Series C, showing how deep-pocketed investors are angling to get a piece of the mRNA vaccine pie.

Abogen Biosciences closed a staggering $700 million round Thursday, the company announced, largely to push forward its mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine candidate. But the funds will also help the Suzhou, China-based biotech vastly expand its other vaccine and oncology programs, while building out its manufacturing capabilities to support those efforts.

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Jun­shi, Co­herus gun for ma­jor PD-(L)1 mar­ket with PhI­II NSCLC re­sults

As a slate of made-in-China checkpoint inhibitors arrive on the scene, China-based drugmakers have shown time and again that they’re not content with just the Chinese market or niches of the American market. Rather, they are more than eager to follow the sprawling roadmap that leaders like Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb have offered — and dive right into large cancer indications.

For the latest example, look no further than Shanghai Junshi — the first biotech to steer a homegrown PD-(L)1 toward approval from China’s NMPA.

Jasmine Cui, InnoCare CEO

In­no­Care bags Chi­nese rights to In­cyte CAR-T ri­val Mon­ju­vi in bid to ex­pand in-house pipeline

Merck veteran Jasmine Cui has turned Beijing-based InnoCare into a $4 billion company largely on the strength of a single BTK inhibitor and a clutch of earlier stage assets.

But on Tuesday, the biotech expanded its pipeline, striking a deal with Incyte for the Delaware biotech’s newly US-approved CD-19 antibody Monjuvi. Under the agreement, InnoCare will pay Incyte $35 million and promise $82.5 million in milestones for rights to market the cancer drug in China and its surrounding regions.

CEO Jian Ma (XtalPi)

Af­ter at­tract­ing mul­ti­ple Chi­nese phar­ma part­ners, XtalPi grabs an­oth­er $400M to re­fine AI for drug dis­cov­ery

Building the kind of artificial intelligence infrastructure required to make a dent in drug discovery takes real money — money that investors have been happy to lavish. Big players, or emerging ones flush with cash, are now popping up on the map in every direction you look: Exscientia in Oxford, UK; Daphne Koller’s insitro in San Francisco; Recursion in Utah; Deep Genomics in Toronto; and Insilico in Hong Kong.

Michael Yu, Innovent CEO (Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

As US re­view of Eli Lil­ly-part­nered PD-1 gets un­der­way, In­novent touts an­oth­er front­line win in Chi­na

When Eli Lilly inked a $1 billion-plus deal to grab ex-China commercialization rights for Innovent’s PD-1 Tyvyt (sintilimab), the partners hailed the “clinical profile” of the drug they co-developed and vowed to keep exploring its potential across tumor types.

One year later, Tyvyt has notched another big win on its home turf.

Suzhou-based Innovent says at the interim analysis, the drug hit the primary endpoint of overall survival in ORIENT-16, a Phase III clinical trial for unresectable, locally advanced, recurrent or metastatic gastric or gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) adenocarcinoma. Specifically, it pits a combination of the PD-1 inhibitor and chemotherapy (oxaliplatin and capecitabine) against chemo alone.

Jianmin Fang, RemeGen CEO (RemeGen)

ADC ex­perts at Seagen find a $2.6B HER2 gem in Chi­na that they think can go where En­her­tu, Kad­cy­la can't

If a record IPO wasn’t enough to put RemeGen on the map, perhaps a deal with Seagen — sporting $200 million in cash — might.

At the center of the licensing pact is disitamab vedotin, an anti-HER2 antibody-drug conjugate that will slide directly into Seagen’s pipeline, except in certain Asian countries where China-based RemeGen will be keeping development and commercialization rights.

The fellow ADC specialists have been following each other for quite a while, RemeGen CEO Jianmin Fang tells me, as his trans-Pacific team leveraged Seagen’s linker technology and kept it posted on clinical data. It just happens to be the right time to pull the trigger.

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Robert Bazemore (Epizyme)

UP­DAT­ED: Robert Baze­more inks one last deal for Epizyme — adding Chi­na to Tazverik's glob­al blue­print — be­fore head­ing out from CEO of­fice

Among the early pioneers of China biotech, Hutchmed (then Chi-Med) stood out for a reason: It largely stayed out of in-licensing drugs from Western drugmakers, choosing instead to hunker down on developing its own compounds — notching big partners in AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly for savolitinib and fruquintinib, both on the market now, along the way.

As its peers begin heralding in-house discovery to complement the externally-sourced parts of the pipeline, though, Hutchmed is once again going in the opposite direction.

Chi­nese start­up with Mer­ck vet at the helm ac­quires rights to Oys­ter Point's eye dis­ease nasal spray

With the Chinese drug market starting to bear fruit, Western drugmakers have looked to wiggle their way in, often leaning on local partners to do the grunt work on the ground. With so many Chinese companies playing the willing host, a fledgling startup with a Merck veteran leading the way will now take on another Western partner of its own.

Ji Xing Pharmaceuticals has acquired the Greater Chinese rights to Oyster Point Pharma’s nasal spray for dry eye disease candidates OC-01 and OC-02 in exchange for $17.5 million in upfront cash and 0.75% equity in the emerging Chinese biotech, the partners said Thursday.

Samantha Du, Zai Lab CEO (Zai Lab)

Saman­tha Du's Zai Lab inks sur­pris­ing re­search col­lab with Schrödinger for DNA dam­age drug

Headed by Samantha Du, Chinese oncology specialist Zai Lab has made no qualms about its aggressive in-licensing strategy to drive Western drugs into regional markets. That strategy has been profitable so far, but that doesn’t mean Du’s team isn’t willing to try something new.

In a surprising volte-face, Zai Lab has signed its name to a research collaboration with physics-based discovery outfit Schrödinger looking for an oncology candidate targeting the DNA damage repair pathway, the partners said Wednesday.