Count HaiHe Biopharma in the new generation of Chinese biotechs answering the clarion call for homegrown innovation.
The Shanghai-based drugmaker is emerging from relative obscurity with a $146 million round and the support of some big names in China’s biopharma industry, including Hillhouse Capital, CSPC Pharma as well as the venture arm of the Chinese Academy of Science. PE firm Huagai led the round, which also involved a sizable group of investors, such as OncoCapital and Yingke PE.
HaiHe Biopharma was founded in 2011 by Jian Ding, the dean of CAS’ College of Pharmacy, to pursue oncology drugs. When the company merged with RMX Biopharma last March, it took on a couple of pain drugs, an antibiotic in-licensed from Korea’s LogiChem, and a new chief. CEO Ruiping Dong, the founder of RMX, has previously run R&D in emerging markets for Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca, after finishing a postdoc at Dana Farber.
It is the oncology drugs (both clinical and preclinical) — which were discovered in-house — that will claim the majority of the new funds.
“In the past year, HaiHe Biopharma has obtained more than a dozen clinical trial approvals, and has made major breakthroughs in tumor target layout and clinical project advancement,” Zhiqiang Zeng, managing partner of Huagai Capital Medical Fund, said in a statement.
Here’s a peek at HaiHe’s cancer pipeline — with more than 10 assets in total:
- RMX3001, an oral formulation of paclitaxel, with a Phase III under way in China;
- Lucitanib, a TKI targeting FGFR1/2, VEGFR1-3, PDGFR α/β and potential combo with PD-1/L1;
- Simmitecan, a second generation camptothecin compound;
- Glumetinib, a c-Met inhibitor;
- CYH33, which targets PI3Kα.
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