Qiming, Hillhouse bet on Jacobio's nascent pipeline of first-in-class drug hopefuls in $55M round
Qiming Capital and Hillhouse Capital are betting on a Chinese biotech to deliver world-class innovation in their latest investment.
Aside from the two prominent VCs, Jacobio has also attracted Hong Kong-based Prudence Investment Management in the $55 million Series C.
While many of China’s more well-known biotechs have a mix of licensed and in-house products in their pipeline, Beijing-based Jacobio firmly positioned itself in novel drug R&D, setting up a subsidiary and a joint venture to fully flesh out its treatments for cancer, autoimmune and infectious diseases.
Jacobio’s lead drug, JAB-3068, inhibits PTPN11, an enzyme believed to play a role in several blood cancers. The idea is that it can work downstream for PD-1 checkpoints and lift immunosuppression in the tumor microenvironment; the company is testing it first in an ongoing Phase I study in the US. Another IND is under review at China’s drug regulator — now known as the National Medical Product Administration.
This round of funding will secure development of that and a slate of preclinical assets, the company states, three to four of which are expected to enter the clinic in the coming two years.
If the execs sound confident, that’s likely because they have done it before. The crew running Jacobio worked together at Betta Pharma, a Shenzhen-listed biotech that developed and markets a epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor called icotinib. Quite a few execs from the top team migrated to Jacobio when it launched in 2015, from CEO Yinxiang Wang to R&D chief Shaojing Hu to president of administration Jiessie Wang.
Lilly Asia Ventures — which led a $20 million Series B last year that Qiming also chipped in for — and Taiwan’s Center Laboratories are also backing the company.