Grail hauls in mon­ster $300M round from Chi­nese in­vestors amid ru­mors about Hong Kong IPO

The can­cer screen­ing up­start Grail got start­ed with more than a bil­lion dol­lars in launch mon­ey from some of the biggest gam­blers in the US ven­ture com­mu­ni­ty. And now some promi­nent Chi­nese in­vestors want in­to the game, an­te­ing up a $300 mil­lion mon­ster round to fu­el the de­vel­op­ment of new prod­ucts.

Hong Kong-based Al­ly Bridge Group led the fi­nanc­ing along­side Hill­house Cap­i­tal Group and 6 Di­men­sions Cap­i­tal. They are joined by Blue Pool Cap­i­tal, Chi­na Mer­chant Se­cu­ri­ties In­ter­na­tion­al, CRF In­vest­ment, Huang­Pu Riv­er Cap­i­tal, ICBC In­ter­na­tion­al, Se­quoia Cap­i­tal Chi­na, and WuXi NextCODE. No specifics were giv­en re­gard­ing the use of pro­ceeds, ex­cept that they will “sup­port on­go­ing de­vel­op­ment and val­i­da­tion of prod­ucts for the ear­ly de­tec­tion of can­cer in Grail’s clin­i­cal re­search pro­gram.”

Ken Drazan

The mon­ey could be a crossover round for Grail, which has been ru­mored to be in the hunt for an IPO on the Hong Kong ex­change. The city just re­vamped its rules to al­low pre-rev­enue com­pa­nies like Grail to list.

“Many of our new in­vestors have a fo­cus in Asia, which we be­lieve is a nat­ur­al fit as we plan to grow our ca­pa­bil­i­ties and op­er­a­tions in the re­gion, fol­low­ing the planned launch of our first prod­uct for ear­ly de­tec­tion of na­sopha­ryn­geal can­cer in Hong Kong this year,” said Ken Drazan, pres­i­dent, in a state­ment.

A well-known in­vest­ment firm op­er­at­ing be­tween Chi­na, the US and Eu­rope, Al­ly Bridge Group played a cru­cial as­sist role for Ge Li when he took WuXi pri­vate in 2015. Founder and CEO Frank Yu has al­so in­vest­ed in Tesaro and Sor­ren­to Ther­a­peu­tics.

Frank Yu

“We are very im­pressed with the sci­en­tif­ic, clin­i­cal, and soft­ware en­gi­neer­ing achieve­ments the team at GRAIL has made in just over two years. Our sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment in GRAIL aligns well with Al­ly Bridge’s strong fo­cus on in­vest­ing in some of the world’s most in­no­v­a­tive life sci­ence tech­nolo­gies and en­hanc­ing val­ue-cre­ation across ge­o­gra­phies,” said Yu in a re­lease.

The funds bring Grail’s to­tal haul to $1.5 bil­lion — with the $300 mil­lion be­ing part of $1 bil­lion Grail is re­port­ed­ly seek­ing be­fore the Hong Kong IPO.

No­var­tis reshuf­fles its wild cards; Tough sell for Bio­gen? Googling pro­teins; Ken Fra­zier's new gig; 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.

If you enjoy the People section in this report, you may also want to check out Peer Review, my colleagues Alex Hoffman and Kathy Wong’s comprehensive compilation of comings and goings in biopharma.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 112,600+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Demis Hassabis, DeepMind CEO (Qianlong/Imaginechina via AP Images)

Google's Deep­Mind opens its pro­tein data­base to sci­ence — po­ten­tial­ly crack­ing drug R&D wide open

Nearly a year ago, Google’s AI outfit DeepMind announced they had cracked one of the oldest problems in biology: predicting a protein’s structure from its sequence alone. Now they’ve turned that software on nearly every human protein and hundreds of thousands of additional proteins from organisms important to medical research, such as fruit flies, mice and malaria parasite.

The new database of roughly 350,000 protein sequences and structures represents a potentially monumental achievement for the life sciences, one that could hasten new biological insights and the development of new drugs. DeepMind said it will be free and accessible to all researchers and companies.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 112,600+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

In­side Bio­gen's scram­ble to sell Aduhelm: Pro­ject 'Javelin' and pres­sure to ID as many pa­tients as pos­si­ble

In anticipation of Aduhelm’s approval for Alzheimer’s in June, Biogen employees were directed to identify and guarantee treatment centers would administer the drug through a program called “Javelin,” a senior Biogen employee told Endpoints News.

The program identified about 800 centers for use, he said, and Biogen now pays for the use of bioassays to identify beta amyloid in potential patients having undergone a lumbar puncture procedure, the employee said — and one center preparing to administer the drug confirmed its participation in the bioassay program.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

Vas Narasimhan, Novartis CEO (Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis dis­cards one of its ‘wild card’ drugs af­ter it flops in key study. But it takes one more for the hand

Always remember just how risky it is to gamble big on small studies.

A little more than 4 years ago, Novartis reportedly put up a package worth up to $1 billion for the dry eye drug ECF843 after a small biotech called Lubris put it through its paces in a tiny study of 40 moderate to severe patients, tracking some statistically significant markers of efficacy.

By last fall, the program had risen up to become one of CEO Vas Narasimhan’s top “wild card” programs in line for a potential breakthrough year in 2021. These drugs were all considered high-risk, high-reward efforts. And in this case, risk won.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 112,600+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

UP­DAT­ED: Three biotechs price hefty IPOs just be­fore the week­end, while a fourth and a SPAC seek spots on Wall Street

Editor’s note: Interested in following biopharma’s fast-paced IPO market? You can bookmark our IPO Tracker here.

A handful of biotechs are hitting Wall Street just before the start of the weekend, with three companies — Caribou Biosciences, Sophia Genetics and Absci — all pricing big raises Wednesday and Thursday. Gamma delta T cell-focused IN8bio relaunched its IPO campaign months after postponing it last November, seeking a slightly lower raise. And another SPAC has filed for a public debut.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 112,600+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Victor Perlroth, Kodiak Sciences CEO

Ko­di­ak turns down $125M pay­ment from Bak­er Bros. deal, slash­es roy­al­ty cap by 55%

Following a massive public raise last November, Kodiak Sciences has re-worked a royalty sale agreement with an old partner — and declined new funds in the process.

Kodiak is turning down a planned $125 million payment from Baker Bros. Advisors, according to an SEC filing, cutting short an agreement that saw the biotech hand over a 4.5% stream of royalty sales on its experimental anti-VEGF therapy KSI-301 for retinal vascular diseases. In conjunction with the move, Kodiak is shrinking the royalty cap from just over $1 billion to $450 million.

EMA re­jects FDA-ap­proved Parkin­son's drug, signs off on Mod­er­na vac­cine use in ado­les­cents ahead of FDA

The European Medicines Agency on Friday rejected Kyowa Kirin’s Parkinson’s disease drug Nouryant (istradefylline), which the US FDA approved in 2019 under the brand name Nourianz.

EMA said it considered that the results of the clinical studies used to support the application “were inconsistent and did not satisfactorily show that Nouryant was effective at reducing the ‘off’ time. Only four out of the eight studies showed a reduction in ‘off’ time, and the effect did not increase with an increased dose of Nouryant.”

6 top drug­mak­ers of­fer per­spec­tives on FDA's new co­vari­ates in RCTs guid­ance

Back in May, the FDA revised and expanded a 2019 draft guidance that spells out how to adjust for covariates in the statistical analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Building on the ICH’s E9 guideline on the statistical principles for clinical trials, the 3-page draft was transformed into an 8-page draft, with more detailed recommendations on linear and nonlinear models to analyze the efficacy endpoints in RCTs.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

Mol­e­c­u­lar Di­ag­nos­tics Can Trans­form Can­cer Care. Let’s Make It Hap­pen.

Like so many people around the world, my life has been profoundly shaped by cancer. Those personal experiences, along with a deep love of clinical laboratory science and a passion to apply the power of genomics in medicine, motivated me to launch a company that would improve cancer care through better diagnostics. Thirteen years later, I am proud that we are delivering more accurate information at multiple points along the patient journey, with a focus on eight of the 10 cancers that are most commonly diagnosed in the United States.