China channel feed

Glax­o­SmithK­line R&D vet Min Li nabs $100M to launch a Bob Nelsen-backed start­up fo­cused on Chi­na’s bur­geon­ing neu­ro mar­ket

In recent years we’ve seen a whole string of China-based biotech startups gain impressive backing as they kickstarted new companies with big plans in oncology as they created pipelines and inked international licensing deals. Now GSK R&D vet and former Johns Hopkins professor Min Li plans to take much the same page on strategy and start something big in neuro. And for now, he has this particular field in China largely to himself.

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Chi­na opens the door for biotech in­vestors in Hong Kong to buy Shang­hai stocks, and vice ver­sa

When Shanghai’s STAR board began opening its doors to biotech, it was considered not just a rival to Nasdaq but also the stock exchange in Hong Kong. Those perceptions may take an amicable turn as China expands a mutual access program with the city.

The changes mean investors in mainland China will be able to own Hong Kong biotech chapter stocks, while those in Hong Kong — a much more internationally connected group — would have access to those listed on STAR. In effect, it turns the Shanghai market into a globally accessible exchange overnight while also broadening a key source of revenue for HKEX.

Frank Zhang (AP Images)

Plot thick­ens around Leg­end Biotech, Gen­Script with founder Frank Zhang's ar­rest

Two months after Legend Biotech made the startling disclosure that founder and then-CEO Frank Zhang was placed under “residential surveillance,” its parent company revealed that he’s been formally arrested.

Zhang — who, since founding GenScript 18 years ago, has taken the CRO public and groomed Legend Biotech in-house until the J&J-partnered CAR-T player was mature enough for its own Nasdaq listing — is severing his final ties with both. He is resigning as board chair/non-executive director of GenScript and director of Legend.

Debra Yu (LianBio)

Pfiz­er hands Lian­Bio $70M to tag along Per­cep­tive's Chi­na play, with an eye to beef­ing up re­gion­al port­fo­lio

When Perceptive unveiled its carefully curated syndicate for LianBio’s $310 million Series A, Pfizer stood out as the only pharma amid a marquee group of VCs. It turns out that the drugmaker wasn’t only looking to share the fruits of LianBio’s labor, it also wants to get down into the trenches.

Pfizer has put an additional $70 million on the table for LianBio — which Perceptive set out to shape into a “best-in-class sourcing and development engine” in China — to in-license programs that they can then co-develop. If a drug reaches the market, Pfizer will be first in line to negotiate for standalone commercial deals.

George Chen (D3 Bio)

Here's a $200M Chi­na start­up idea — if you can read be­yond the big words

What does it take to gather $200 million from top VC players in China these days?

Not much that can be shared publicly, D3 Bio suggests as it launches with the hefty Series A this morning. But the ingredients feeding into the Shanghai-based aspiring global biotech may be indicative of things that would turn heads at places like Boyu Capital, Matrix Partners China, Sequoia Capital China, Temasek, and WuXi AppTec’s Corporate Venture Fund.

Short­age of mon­keys slowed down Eli Lil­ly's Covid-19 an­ti­body part­ner. And it's a prob­lem for every­one

It may not be surprising that Shanghai Junshi Biosciences has pushed back some clinical trials to prioritize its Eli Lilly-partnered Covid-19 antibody. But what exactly was sucking up their time is almost certain to raise some eyebrows: The company spent months finding enough monkeys on which to test the experimental drug.

Junshi’s plight highlights a serious, if oft-underlooked, challenge that’s beset the whole biomedical research enterprise. Testing a molecule on non-human primates is often a crucial final step before it can be moved into the clinic, but a confluence of factors have resulted in a shortage in both the US and Europe just as drugmakers were scrambling to put their experimental programs through trials at record speed.

A year af­ter stun­ning Chi­na OK, Shang­hai Alzheimer's drug­mak­er set to en­roll first US pa­tient — and the stakes are huge

Just as experts are set to debate whether Biogen’s aducanumab should become the first Alzheimer’s drug to be approved in the US in almost two decades, a therapy that seized a conditional OK in China late last year — shocking scientists around the world — is finally making headway in the clinic.

The US arm of Shanghai Green Valley’s global Phase III trial has identified its first patient, Bloomberg reported, and dosing will begin in four weeks.

JW Ther­a­peu­tics hauls in $300M IPO just as liso-cel-in­spired CAR-T nears the fin­ish line in Chi­na

Close to two years after Juno Therapeutics disappeared from Nasdaq, a CAR-T biotech it spawned is settling on a stock exchange on the other side of the globe.

JW Therapeutics, a joint venture between Juno and WuXi AppTec, raised $300 million in its IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange — building on $190 in venture money since launching in 2018.

The pitch is all about bringing cell therapy breakthroughs to China, tapping into American connections that extend into Lyell, a new startup led by Juno co-founder Rick Klausner, and Eureka, a longtime partner of Juno. WuXi, a global CRO, brings expertise in process development and manufacturing to the mix.

Eye­ing com­mer­cial­iza­tion, a Shang­hai-based CAR-T start­up nabs a $186M megaround

Three years after its last financing and with six programs now in the clinic, Shanghai-based CARsgen therapeutics has raised $186 million to push forward a broad platform of CAR-T therapies for liquid and solid tumors.

The Series C mega-round drew from both marquee and lesser-known regional investors, with the well-heeled Chinese private equity firm Loyal Valley Capital leading the raise and Lilly Asia Ventures, Shiyu Capital, and Summer Capital chipping in. The company will use that cash in part to transition, advancing trials on three continents and laying the basis for an eventual commercial launch, founder and CEO Zonghai Li said in a statement.

Konstantin Poukalov

Per­cep­tive re­cruits A-list in­vestors to back its in-house Chi­na start­up with a mam­moth $310M raise

It took two years for Perceptive Advisors to conceive and boot up LianBio, its big bet on a new kind of in-licensing model for China, seeding it with enough cash to set up two anchoring deals with MyoKardia and BridgeBio. The result was a startup that was all ready to go, reaping $310 million just a little over two months after official launch.

Homegrown Chinese biotechs — many of them boasting of US ties and execs with overseas credentials — have been raking in mega-venture rounds in 2020, both from influential local backers and overseas VC firms that have been loading up new cash. As with IPOs, the deal flow might be slower but the amounts are often more staggering. LianBio’s latest round, unusually, is branded both a Series A and crossover.