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.

Tar­get­ing a Po­ten­tial Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of Cer­tain Can­cers with DNA Dam­age Re­sponse

Every individual’s DNA is unique, and because of this, every patient responds differently to disease and treatment. It is astonishing how four tiny building blocks of our DNA – A, T, C, G – dictate our health, disease, and how we age.

The tricky thing about DNA is that it is constantly exposed to damage by sources such as ultraviolet light, certain chemicals, toxins, and even natural biochemical processes inside our cells.¹ If ignored, DNA damage will accumulate in replicating cells, giving rise to mutations that can lead to premature aging, cancer, and other diseases.

Fol­low biotechs go­ing pub­lic with the End­points News IPO Track­er

The Endpoints News team is continuing to track IPO filings for 2021, and we’ve designed a new tracker page for the effort.

Check it out here: Biopharma IPOs 2021 from Endpoints News

You’ll be able to find all the biotechs that have filed and priced so far this year, sortable by quarter and listed by newest first. As of the time of publishing on Feb. 25, there have already been 16 biotechs debuting on Nasdaq so far this year, with an additional four having filed their S-1 paperwork.

Steve Cutler, Icon CEO (Icon)

In the biggest CRO takeover in years, Icon doles out $12B for PRA Health Sci­ences to fo­cus on de­cen­tral­ized clin­i­cal work

Contract research M&A had a healthy run in recent years before recently petering out. But with the market ripe for a big buyout and the Covid-19 pandemic emphasizing the importance of decentralized trials, Wednesday saw a tectonic shift in the CRO world.

Icon, the Dublin-based CRO, will acquire PRA Health Sciences for $12 billion in a move that will shake up the highest rungs of a fragmented market. The merger would combine the 5th- and 6th-largest CROs by 2020 revenue, according to Icon, and the merger will set the newco up to be the second-largest global CRO behind only IQVIA.

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Tom Barnes (Orna)

The mR­NA era is here. MPM be­lieves the fu­ture be­longs to oR­NA — and Big Phar­ma wants a seat at the ta­ble

If the ultra-fast clinical development of Covid-19 vaccines opened the world’s eyes to the promises of messenger RNA, the subsequent delays in supply offered a crash course on the ultra-complex process of producing them. Even before the formulation and fill-finish steps, mRNA is the precious end product from an arduous journey involving enzyme-aided transcription, modification and purification.

For Bristol Myers Squibb, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Gilead’s Kite and Astellas, it’s time to rethink the way therapeutic RNA is engineered.

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Michael Rome (Foresite)

In search of 'house­hold health­care brands of the fu­ture,' Fore­site Cap­i­tal rais­es $969M to sa­ti­ate a tech-heavy ap­petite

Back in April 2018, just before Foresite Capital unveiled its $668 million Fund IV and a strategy to focus on tech-driven life science bets, one of its portfolio companies quietly made an announcement.

Fount Therapeutics, a drug discovery outfit backed by Foresite and Eshelman Ventures, had raised $22 million in Series A cash to hatch several fledgling spinouts. “The first ‘NewCo,’ Kinnate, will be focused on developing precision oncology treatments,” read a press release.

S&P ex­pects steady ero­sion in Big Phar­ma's cred­it pro­file in 2021 as new M&A deals roll in — but don't un­der­es­ti­mate their un­der­ly­ing strength

S&P Global has taken a look at the dominant forces shaping the pharma market and come to the conclusion that there will be more downgrades than upgrades in 2021 — the 8th straight year of steady decline.

But it’s not all bad news. Some things are looking up, and there’s still plenty of money to be made in an industry that enjoys a 30% to 40% profit margin, once you factor in steep R&D expenses.

Tal Zaks, Moderna CMO (AP Photo/Rodrique Ngowi, via still image from video)

CMO Tal Zaks bids Mod­er­na a sur­prise adieu as biotech projects $18.4B in rev­enue, plots post-Covid ex­pan­sion

How do you exit a company after six years in style? Developing one of the most lucrative and life-saving products in pharma history is probably not the worst way to go.

Tal Zaks, Moderna’s CMO since 2015, will leave the mRNA biotech in September, the biotech disclosed in their annual report this morning. The company has already retained the recruitment firm Russell Reynolds to find a replacement.

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Masayoshi Son, SoftBank CEO (glen photo/Shutterstock)

Japan's Soft­Bank plots bil­lions in biotech in­vest­ments in move that could keep the val­u­a­tion flood ris­ing — re­port

The valuation crazy train in biotech continues to roll into the new year with more than a dozen companies taking a chance on Nasdaq and money flowing in from all sides. Now, a Japanese institutional investor is reportedly weighing an entry into the market in a big way — will it keep the bitcoin-esque flood rising?

Already a part-time investor in biotech, SoftBank could drop billions of dollars into the industry as part of helmsman Masayoshi Son’s plan to spend around $80 billion of the firm’s own assets, according to a report from Bloomberg citing people familiar with the plan.

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Ken Frazier, Merck CEO (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck takes a swing at the IL-2 puz­zle­box with a $1.85B play for buzzy Pan­dion and its au­toim­mune hope­fuls

When Roger Perlmutter bid farewell to Merck late last year, the drugmaker perhaps best known now for sales giant Keytruda signaled its intent to take a swing at early-stage novelty with the appointment of discovery head Dean Li. Now, Merck is signing a decent-sized check to bring an IL-2 moonshot into the fold.

Merck will shell out roughly $1.85 billion for Pandion Pharmaceuticals, a biotech hoping to gin up regulatory T cells (Tregs) to treat a range of autoimmune disorders, the drugmaker said Thursday.

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