Konstantin Poukalov

Per­cep­tive re­cruits A-list in­vestors to back its in-house Chi­na start­up with a mam­moth $310M raise

It took two years for Per­cep­tive Ad­vi­sors to con­ceive and boot up Lian­Bio, its big bet on a new kind of in-li­cens­ing mod­el for Chi­na, seed­ing it with enough cash to set up two an­chor­ing deals with MyoKar­dia and Bridge­Bio. The re­sult was a start­up that was all ready to go, reap­ing $310 mil­lion just a lit­tle over two months af­ter of­fi­cial launch.

Home­grown Chi­nese biotechs — many of them boast­ing of US ties and ex­ecs with over­seas cre­den­tials — have been rak­ing in mega-ven­ture rounds in 2020, both from in­flu­en­tial lo­cal back­ers and over­seas VC firms that have been load­ing up new cash. As with IPOs, the deal flow might be slow­er but the amounts are of­ten more stag­ger­ing. Lian­Bio’s lat­est round, un­usu­al­ly, is brand­ed both a Se­ries A and crossover.

The raise brings in much-need­ed cap­i­tal to add more drugs to the port­fo­lio and set them up for ap­proval in Chi­na, said Kon­stan­tin Poukalov, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Per­cep­tive. But it’s not just about the mon­ey.

“We’ve been form­ing syn­di­cates as part of our day job for many many years now,” said Poukalov, who’s al­so Lian’s ex­ec­u­tive chair­man. “When we set out on this process, we had a very tar­get­ed list of in­vestors who we want­ed to in­tro­duce the Lian sto­ry to.”

Bing Li

All in­vestors in the round came out of that ini­tial small list: RA Cap­i­tal and Ven­rock co-led the round with Chi­nese in­vestor CMG-SDIC Cap­i­tal. Black­Rock, Cas­din Cap­i­tal, Far­al­lon, Lo­gos Cap­i­tal, Pfiz­er, Sphera Health­care, T. Rowe Price As­so­ci­ates, Ty­bourne Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment, Vi­da Ven­tures, Viking Glob­al In­vestors and Welling­ton Man­age­ment al­so chimed in.

Most of these are like-mind­ed, knowl­edge­able in­vestors that can com­ple­ment Per­cep­tive’s own biotech net­work and con­nect Lian­Bio to po­ten­tial new part­ners, Poukalov not­ed. There are al­so in­vestors from Asia who can help with ex­e­cu­tion on the ground.

In re­turn, Per­cep­tive pitched an op­por­tu­ni­ty to un­lock Chi­na — a boom­ing mar­ket that “no qual­i­ty com­pa­ny should re­al­ly ig­nore” — as a key part of any glob­al drug de­vel­op­ment pro­gram.

“In-li­cens­ing pro­grams is on­ly the first step,” Poukalov said. “We want to have world-class ex­per­tise with re­spect to ex­e­cu­tion, de­vel­op­ment, reg­u­la­to­ry and even com­mer­cial­iza­tion in Chi­na.”

De­bra Yu

Since Au­gust the team has al­ready grown from 30 to 40, with CEO Bing Li lead­ing the bulk of them in Shang­hai and pres­i­dent/CBO De­bra Yu head­ing up the lean Prince­ton of­fice, which is fo­cused on busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and al­liance man­age­ment while keep­ing an eye on com­pli­ance and lo­gis­tics.

Aside from the on­col­o­gy and car­dio­vas­cu­lar as­sets they’ve al­ready se­cured, Lian is work­ing on a num­ber of new trans­ac­tions in the in­flam­ma­to­ry, au­toim­mune, neu­rol­o­gy, oph­thal­mol­o­gy, and po­ten­tial­ly rare dis­ease space.

Old­er com­pa­nies that adopt a sim­i­lar li­cens­ing mod­el, from Zai Lab and Ever­est to CAN­bridge, may al­ready be tap­ping in­to some of those ar­eas. Lian­Bio be­lieves it is more am­bi­tious in the breadth of its en­vi­sioned pipeline.

Poukalov added that the com­pa­ny plans to dou­ble in size in the next year or two while it dras­ti­cal­ly scales up the pipeline.

IDC: Life Sci­ences Firms Must Em­brace Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Now

Pre-pandemic, the life sciences industry had settled into a pattern. The average drug took 12 years and $2.9 billion to bring to market, and it was an acceptable mode of operations, according to Nimita Limaye, Research Vice President for Life Sciences R&D Strategy and Technology at IDC.

COVID-19 changed that, and served as a proof-of-concept for how technology can truly help life sciences companies succeed and grow, Limaye said. She recently spoke about industry trends at Egnyte’s Life Sciences Summit 2022. You should watch the entire session, free and on-demand, but here’s a brief recap of why she’s urging life sciences companies to embrace digital transformation.

Tom Barnes, Orna Therapeutics CEO

UP­DAT­ED: 'We have failed to fail': Mer­ck gam­bles $250M cash on a next-gen ap­proach to mR­NA — af­ter punt­ing its big al­liance with Mod­er­na

Merck went in deep on its collaboration with Moderna on new mRNA programs, and dropped them all over time, including their RSV partnership. But after writing off what turned out as one of the most successful infectious disease players in the business, Merck is coming in this morning with a new preclinical alliance — this time embracing a biotech that hopes to eventually outdo the famously successful mRNA in a new run at vaccines and therapeutics.

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Joel Dudley, new partner at Innovation Endeavors (Bosch Health Campus)

For­mer Google CEO’s VC is mak­ing a big­ger push in­to the biotech world, hir­ing promi­nent Ther­a­nos skep­tic

Venture capital firm Innovation Endeavors has mainly had its focus on investments across the tech space, but it has been slowly turning its attention to the biotech world. Now, a new partner is coming into the fold showing that its interest in biotech is likely to grow further.

The Silicon Valley-based company, which is headed up by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, has brought on Joel Dudley as a partner. According to Dudley’s LinkedIn page, he is joining Innovation Endeavors after serving as the chief science officer of biotech startup Tempus Labs since 2020.

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Bayer's first DTC ad campaign for chronic kidney disease drug Kerendia spells out its benefits

Bay­er aims to sim­pli­fy the com­plex­i­ties of CKD with an ABC-themed ad cam­paign

Do you know the ABCs of CKD in T2D? Bayer’s first ad campaign for Kerendia tackles the complexity of chronic kidney disease with a play on the acronym (CKD) and its connection to type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Kerendia was approved last year as the first and only non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist to treat CKD in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the TV commercial launched this week, A is for awareness, B is for belief and C is for cardiovascular, explained in the ad as awareness of the connection between type 2 and kidney disease, belief that something can be done about it, and cardiovascular events that may be reduced with treatment.

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James Mock, incoming CFO at Moderna

Mod­er­na taps new CFO from PerkinElmer af­ter for­mer one-day CFO oust­ed

When Moderna hired a new CFO last year,  it didn’t expect to see him gone after only one day. Today the biotech named his — likely much more vetted — replacement.

The mRNA company put out word early Wednesday that after the untimely departure of then brand-new CFO Jorge Gomez, it has now found a replacement in James Mock, the soon-to-be former CFO at diagnostics and analytics company PerkinElmer.

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Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division

GSK lands first-ever UNICEF con­tract for malar­ia vac­cine worth $170M

GSK has landed a new first from UNICEF the first-ever contract for malaria vaccines, worth up to $170 million for 18 million vaccine doses distributed over the next three years.

The vaccine, known as Mosquirix or RTS,S, won WHO’s backing last October after a controversial start, but UNICEF said these doses will potentially save thousands of lives every year.

“We hope this is just the beginning,” Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division, said. “Continued innovation is needed to develop new and next-generation vaccines to increase available supply, and enable a healthier vaccine market. This is a giant step forward in our collective efforts to save children’s lives and reduce the burden of malaria as part of wider malaria prevention and control programmes.”

Joe Jonas (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

So­lo Jonas broth­er car­ries Merz's new tune in Botox ri­val cam­paign

As the lyrics of his band’s 2019 pop-rock single suggest, Joe Jonas is only human — and that means even he gets frown lines. The 33-year-old singer-songwriter is Merz’s newest celebrity brand partner for its Botox rival Xeomin, as medical aesthetics brands target a younger audience.

Merz kicked off its “Beauty on Your Terms” campaign on Tuesday, featuring the Jonas brother in a video ad for its double-filtered anti-wrinkle injection Xeomin.

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Marisol Peron, Genmab SVP of communications and corporate affairs

Gen­mab launch­es cor­po­rate cam­paign am­pli­fy­ing its ‘knock your socks off’ an­ti­bod­ies

Genmab often talks about its “knock-your-socks-off” antibodies — and now the term is getting its own logo and corporate campaign.

The teal and purple logo for the acronym KYSO — Genmab pronounces it “ky-so” — debuts on Wednesday and comes on the heels of Genmab’s newly announced 2030 vision. That aspiration aims to expand Genmab’s drug development beyond oncology to include other serious diseases, while also doubling down on its own drug development.

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Kate Haviland, Blueprint Medicines CEO

Blue­print met all its end­points in bid for ex­pand­ed Ay­vak­it la­bel — but stock trends low­er any­way

Blueprint Medicines announced this morning that the second part of its study on Ayvakit in non-advanced systemic mastocytosis (SM) — a rare disease in which a type of white blood cells known as mast cells builds up — met all endpoints, but the biopharma left key questions unanswered.

In 212 patients, with 141 in the treatment arm and 71 in the control arm, patients who got Ayvakit saw an average 15.6-point decrease in their symptom scores compared to a 9.2-point decrease in the placebo arm at 24 weeks. In an extension study, those on Ayvakit saw their symptom scores drop by 20.2 points by week 48.