Gary Rieschel, Duane Kuang, Nisa Leung, William Hu (Qiming)

Qim­ing's Chi­na-fo­cused $1.1B new fund brings glob­al haul to $5B with­in 1 week — but the dis­tri­b­u­tion won't be even

In case you’re still won­der­ing, the glob­al ven­ture train for bio­phar­ma is def­i­nite­ly chug­ging along.

Qim­ing Ven­ture Part­ners has just closed $1.1 bil­lion for its sev­enth fund, bring­ing the grand to­tal of new biotech funds close to $5 bil­lion just over the past week. To be sure, the Chi­na-based VC al­so in­vests in medtech, di­ag­nos­tics, health­care ser­vices, in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, en­ter­prise ser­vices, con­sumer in­ter­net and e-com­merce — but over the past 14 years it’s es­tab­lished it­self as a pre­mier ear­ly-stage biotech backer with an eye for play­ers that even­tu­al­ly make it big.

The size of the new fund eclipsed both of the pre­vi­ous funds: Fund VI brought in $935 mil­lion while Fund V had $638 mil­lion.

The firm — which has of­fices in Shang­hai, Bei­jing, Shen­zhen and Hong Kong — ac­knowl­edged that there were chal­lenges caused by the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic, as well as geopo­lit­i­cal un­cer­tain­ties. That said, high qual­i­ty teams are still draw­ing com­mit­ments to ad­vance treat­ments in the long run, echo­ing com­ments by ARCH, Flag­ship, ven­Bio and Deer­field.

So is there go­ing to be plen­ty of cash to go around through and af­ter the cri­sis? Like his VC coun­ter­parts, man­ag­ing part­ner Gary Ri­eschel pre­dicts “ex­treme se­lec­tiv­i­ty with­in VC port­fo­lios” since many tranched funds tied to tri­al mile­stones could now be at risk.

But Qim­ing is al­so in a unique place — lit­er­al­ly.

“Chi­na has less ex­po­sure here be­cause it ap­pears as though tri­al ini­ti­a­tion and re­cruit­ment has re­sumed in Chi­na, where­as in the U.S. it may be sev­er­al more months,” he wrote in an email to End­points News.

Case in point: Yes­ter­day Zai Lab, for whom Qim­ing co-led a Se­ries A back in 2014, struck a $190 mil­lion deal to de­vel­op and com­mer­cial­ize Re­gen­eron’s CD20XCD3 bis­pe­cif­ic. Part of the ap­peal, ac­cord­ing to the US drug­mak­er, is that the col­lab­o­ra­tion would bol­ster en­roll­ment of re­gion­al pa­tients in­to glob­al tri­als in B-cell non-Hodgkin lym­phoma.

Mean­while CanSi­no, an­oth­er Qim­ing port­fo­lio com­pa­ny, is by far the fron­trun­ner in Chi­na’s ef­forts to de­vel­op a vac­cine against Covid-19. The biotech, fa­mous for de­vel­op­ing the coun­try’s first and on­ly Ebo­la vac­cine, got the green light to be­gin hu­man test­ing for its ade­n­ovirus-based can­di­date in late March. That was days af­ter Mod­er­na’s ul­tra-fast mR­NA pro­gram en­tered the clin­ic state­side.

Nisa Le­ung, who heads the health­care team with William Hu, not­ed that over 60 of Qim­ing’s port­fo­lio com­pa­nies are help­ing in dif­fer­ent as­pects to com­bat the coro­n­avirus in Chi­na and glob­al­ly.

Now lead­ing Qim­ing’s US op­er­a­tions in Seat­tle, Ri­eschel is most­ly en­trust­ing the Chi­na side of things to Le­ung, Hu and his co-founder Du­ane Kuang. But he’s keep­ing a close eye on the IPO mar­ket there.

“We had Venus Medtech go out in HK and Sany­ou on the STAR board in the last few months. As well as Rock­robo on the Tech­nol­o­gy side,” he wrote. “It ap­pears as though the Chi­nese cap­i­tal mar­kets are func­tion­ing, if not at the same scale yet as be­fore.”

There are over 30 Qim­ing-backed com­pa­nies in the IPO pipeline, ac­cord­ing to a re­lease.

Mi­no­ryx and Sper­o­genix ink an ex­clu­sive li­cense agree­ment to de­vel­op and com­mer­cial­ize lerigli­ta­zone in Chi­na

September 23, 2020 – Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai (China) and Mataró, Barcelona (Spain)  

Minoryx will receive an upfront and milestone payments of up to $78 million, as well as double digit royalties on annual net sales 

Sperogenix will receive exclusive rights to develop and commercialize leriglitazone for the treatment of X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD), a rare life-threatening neurological condition

David Berry (Flagship)

Flag­ship's next big tech­no­log­i­cal bet? The cloud

Earlier this month, Flagship announced their big bet on the software half the industry is talking about, launching the AI and machine learning startup. Now, they and a couple other investors are gambling $100 million on a software that much of the public generally thinks of as a cool, IT afterthought: cloud computing.

The idea, says founder and Flagship partner David Berry, is one of scale: The sheer magnitude of biological data that you can store on cloud technology is unprecedented. And that size, when leveraged properly, can allow you to ask questions and form insights that are similarly unprecedented.

Vas Narasimhan (AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Still held down by clin­i­cal hold, No­var­tis' Zol­gens­ma falls fur­ther be­hind Bio­gen and Roche as FDA asks for a new piv­otal study

Last October, the FDA slowed down Novartis’ quest to extend its gene therapy to older spinal muscular atrophy patients by slapping a partial hold on intrathecal administration. Almost a year later, the hold is still there, and regulators are adding another hurdle required for regulatory submission: a new pivotal confirmatory study.

The new requirement — which departs significantly from Novartis’ prior expectations — will likely stretch the path to registration beyond 2021, when analysts were expecting a BLA submission. That could mean more time for Biogen to reap Spinraza revenues and Roche to ramp up sales of Evrysdi in the absence of a rival.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 90,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn at the White House (AP Images)

Un­der fire, FDA to is­sue stricter guid­ance for Covid-19 vac­cine EUA this week — re­port

The FDA has been insisting for months that a Covid-19 vaccine had to be at least 50% effective – a measure of transparency meant to shore public trust in the agency and in a vaccine that had been brought forward at record speed and record political pressure. But now, with concerns of a Trump-driven authorization arriving before the election, the agency may be raising the bar.

The FDA is set to release new guidance that would raise safety and efficacy requirements for a vaccine EUA above earlier guidance and above the criteria used for convalescent plasma or hydroxychloroquine, The Washington Post reported. Experts say this significantly lowers the odds of an approval before the election on November 3, which Trump has promised despite vocal concerns from public health officials, and could help shore up public trust in the agency and any eventual vaccine.

Patrick Enright, Longitude co-founder (Longitude)

As its biotechs hit the pan­dem­ic ex­it, Lon­gi­tude rais­es $585M for new neu­ro, can­cer, ag­ing and or­phan-fo­cused fund

The years have been kind to Longitude Capital. This year, too.

A 2006 spinout of Pequot Capital, its founders started their new firm just four years before the parent company would go under amid insider trading allegations. Their first life sciences fund raised $325 million amid the financial crisis, they added a second for $385 million and then in, 2016, a third for $525 million. In the last few months, the pandemic biotech IPO boom netted several high-value exits from those funds, as Checkmate, Vaxcyte, Inozyme and Poseida all went public.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 90,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

PhII Alzheimer's fail­ure deals new blow to Roche, AC Im­mune — but the tau hy­poth­e­sis is far from dead

The leading anti-tau antibody has failed its first Phase II testing, casting a shadow on a popular target (just trailing amyloid beta) for Alzheimer’s disease.

Roche and AC Immune are quick to acknowledge disappointment in the topline readout, which suggested that semorinemab did not reduce cognitive decline among patients with early Alzheimer’s disease, who are either just starting to have symptoms or have mild manifestations.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 90,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Covid-19 roundup: J&J be­gins piv­otal Phase III tri­al for vac­cine; Con­tro­ver­sial hu­man chal­lenge tri­als to be­gin in Lon­don — re­port

Johnson & Johnson announced it’s beginning a pivotal Phase III trial for its Covid-19 candidate, JNJ-78436735 — the first single-dose vaccine in this stage.

The Phase III trial, dubbed ENSEMBLE, will enroll 60,000 patients worldwide, making it the largest Phase III study of a Covid-19 vaccine to date. J&J said the candidate achieved positive interim results in a Phase I/IIa study, which will be published “imminently.” There’s a possibility that the first batches will be ready for potential emergency use in early 2021, according to the company.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 90,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Isaac Veinbergs, Libra CEO

With $29M in Se­ries A, Boehringer-backed Li­bra looks to tack­le neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion through cel­lu­lar clean­ing

Can the natural process by which cells clean out toxic proteins be harnessed to create potential treatments for neurodegenerative disorders?

That’s the question Libra Therapeutics will be trying to answer, as the new biotech officially launched Wednesday morning with $29 million in Series A financing. The company has three preclinical programs at the ready, with its lead candidate targeting ALS and frontotemporal dementia. But CEO Isaac Veinbergs said he hopes to develop therapies for a wide range of diseases, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s.

Gene Wang, Immetas co-founder and CEO (file photo)

Im­metas Ther­a­peu­tics nabs $11M Se­ries A to nar­row their bis­pe­cif­ic work tar­get­ing in­flam­ma­tion in age-re­lat­ed dis­eases

How does a biotech celebrate its two-year anniversary? For Immetas Therapeutics, it’s with an $11 million Series A round and a game plan to fight age-related disease.

Co-founders Gene Wang and David Sinclair came together years ago around the idea that inflammation is the ultimate process driving age-related illnesses, including cancer. The duo launched Immetas in 2018 and packed the staff with industry experts. Wang, who says he’s always had an entrepreneurial spirit, has held lead roles at Novartis, GSK, Bristol Myers Squibb and Merck. He’s worked on blockbuster drugs like Humira, Gardasil, Varubi and Zolinza. And now, he’s channeling that spirit as CEO.