→ In a move that highlights the increasing fixation on opportunities in China, a new stock market index launched this morning to track the performance of companies leading China’s biotech rise. This new index will go by the symbol $LCHINA, and it includes stocks on both the Hong Kong Exchange and the Nasdaq.
Founded by Brad Loncar, an independent biotech investor, through his company Loncar Investments, the index is the second formed by Loncar that follows major trends in biotech. His first index, which debuted in 2015, is a collection of immunotherapy stocks under the index $LCINDX.
Loncar says this new index is in response to massive growth in China’s global biotech presence, driven in part by recent reforms in China’s regulatory body and the rule change allowing biotechs to more easily go public on Hong Kong’s stock exchange.
“China’s biopharma industry is on the cusp of a true revolution that has global implications,” Loncar said in a statement. “Until today, no good stock market index existed as a benchmark for following this important trend.”
LCHINA has 32 holdings, including Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group, BeiGene, Genscript Biotech, Zai Lab, and Hutchison China MediTech.
→ Seeking cash to support its newly commercial operation, La Jolla Pharmaceutical Company is looking to raise $100 million in a public offering. Its lead product, a treatment for low blood pressure called Giapreza, nabbed the last FDA approval of 2017 and was recently rolled out in the US. The San Diego-based biotech said the public offering, which sells a total of 3,400,000 shares at $29.50 per share, will support not just the continued commercialization of that drug but also clinical trials for LJPC-401, currently in Phase II studies for iron overload. The proceeds will also cover preclinical development work and other administrative expenses.
→ Pockets heavy from a recent mega-haul of its own, startup investment machine Flagship Pioneering is dropping $50 million into Cambridge biotech upstart Foghorn Therapeutics, a newly-formed company exploring the chromatin regulatory system’s connection to human disease. The upstart was founded in 2016 by Flagship’s Douglas Cole, Gerald Crabtree of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Stanford University, and Cigall Kadoch, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School and the Broad Institute. Biogen’s former SVP and neurodegeneration head Adrian Gottschalk has signed on as CEO. In a statement describing the company’s work, Foghorn likened the chromatin regulation system to traffic control: “Just as airports need an air traffic control system to direct which planes move and when, where, and in what order, our bodies need a system to control which genes our cells express, and when, where, in what order, and what quantity.” Gottschalk said the company’s platform would be used against cancer, neurology, and immunology. “At Foghorn, we envision a world where patients can regain control of their genes to battle cancer and other serious diseases… This is just the beginning of an entirely new approach to controlling gene expression and to bringing new medicines to patients with intractable diseases.”
With contribution by Amber Tong.
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