Hillhouse Capital has joined several prominent investment firms in backing an antibody and recombinant protein company’s entry to the clinic with $35 million.
Between sites in Hangzhou and Boston, Hangzhou Just Biotherapeutics will ramp up R&D with the new round of funding, which they are calling a Series B+. Temasek, Lilly Asia Ventures, Arch Venture Partners, Taikang and BOCGI Zheshang Capital are among the existing investors that also chipped in, collectively wagering $120 million on HJB’s biomanufacturing and process development platform to date.
While its name has a distinctly Chinese flavor, HJB was in fact born out of Seattle-based Just Biotherapeutics, which was founded by four former Amgen execs in 2014 with a modest investment from Merck, Lilly and Arch. One of them, Jonathan (Yining) Zhao, went on to create and lead the China division as CEO.
Under Zhao’s leadership, HJB has made the decision to focus on oncologic, genetic rare diseases and metabolic diseases. It’s still unclear exactly what will emerge from their pipeline, but they have laid the groundwork with the opening of an R&D center and manufacturing facility in Hangzhou in January, followed by the establishment of a clinical team in Boston this March.
Cost is a central concern for the fledgling biotech, as one of its main propositions is to lower the commercial cost of monoclonal antibodies in low income markets.
“We have achieved remarkable milestones in a short time, but we need to continue the strong momentum to build on our successes,” he said in a statement. “We are now on our way to beginning global clinical trials for several of our assets.”
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