Juno, WuXi JV gets a $90M round as China’s CAR-T pioneers fly high with fresh cash
Close to two years after Hans Bishop at Juno and Ge Li at WuXi AppTec joined hands on a joint venture to create a CAR-T company in China, the biotech has rounded up a whopping $90 million round from a syndicate that includes some major Asian investors in the field.
The company is JW Therapeutics, borrowing initials from each and based in WuXi’s back yard in Shanghai. It’s a marriage of Juno’s hard-won CAR-T development experience and WuXi’s powerhouse manufacturing capabilities. Now owned by Celgene, Juno is going back to chip in fresh cash on this round, along with WuXi, Singapore’s Temasek, Sequoia Capital China, and YuanMing Capital. Their group also includes Oriza Seed Capital, Yipu Capital, AVICT Global Holdings.
The money will go to developing JWCAR029 for B cell malignancies, with an initial familiar focus on DLBCL after their recent IND was OK’d by the China FDA. They’ll also be adding a new manufacturing facility to the company and looking to develop a full pipeline of CAR-Ts for the booming Chinese market.
They’re not alone.
Shanghai-based CARsgen just raised $60 million to continue its work. Then there is the Cellular Biomedicine Group, which a few weeks ago added a $30.6 million investment from Sailing Capital Overseas Investment. And not to be left out, a pre-Gilead buyout Kite joined hands with Fosun to create Fosun Pharma Kite Biotechnology Co., Ltd. a year ago to develop, manufacture and commercialize axicabtagene ciloleucel in China.