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.

No­var­tis reshuf­fles its wild cards; Tough sell for Bio­gen? Googling pro­teins; Ken Fra­zier's new gig; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

If you enjoy the People section in this report, you may also want to check out Peer Review, my colleagues Alex Hoffman and Kathy Wong’s comprehensive compilation of comings and goings in biopharma.

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Demis Hassabis, DeepMind CEO (Qianlong/Imaginechina via AP Images)

Google's Deep­Mind opens its pro­tein data­base to sci­ence — po­ten­tial­ly crack­ing drug R&D wide open

Nearly a year ago, Google’s AI outfit DeepMind announced they had cracked one of the oldest problems in biology: predicting a protein’s structure from its sequence alone. Now they’ve turned that software on nearly every human protein and hundreds of thousands of additional proteins from organisms important to medical research, such as fruit flies, mice and malaria parasite.

The new database of roughly 350,000 protein sequences and structures represents a potentially monumental achievement for the life sciences, one that could hasten new biological insights and the development of new drugs. DeepMind said it will be free and accessible to all researchers and companies.

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In­side Bio­gen's scram­ble to sell Aduhelm: Pro­ject 'Javelin' and pres­sure to ID as many pa­tients as pos­si­ble

In anticipation of Aduhelm’s approval for Alzheimer’s in June, Biogen employees were directed to identify and guarantee treatment centers would administer the drug through a program called “Javelin,” a senior Biogen employee told Endpoints News.

The program identified about 800 centers for use, he said, and Biogen now pays for the use of bioassays to identify beta amyloid in potential patients having undergone a lumbar puncture procedure, the employee said — and one center preparing to administer the drug confirmed its participation in the bioassay program.

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Vas Narasimhan, Novartis CEO (Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis dis­cards one of its ‘wild card’ drugs af­ter it flops in key study. But it takes one more for the hand

Always remember just how risky it is to gamble big on small studies.

A little more than 4 years ago, Novartis reportedly put up a package worth up to $1 billion for the dry eye drug ECF843 after a small biotech called Lubris put it through its paces in a tiny study of 40 moderate to severe patients, tracking some statistically significant markers of efficacy.

By last fall, the program had risen up to become one of CEO Vas Narasimhan’s top “wild card” programs in line for a potential breakthrough year in 2021. These drugs were all considered high-risk, high-reward efforts. And in this case, risk won.

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UP­DAT­ED: Three biotechs price hefty IPOs just be­fore the week­end, while a fourth and a SPAC seek spots on Wall Street

Editor’s note: Interested in following biopharma’s fast-paced IPO market? You can bookmark our IPO Tracker here.

A handful of biotechs are hitting Wall Street just before the start of the weekend, with three companies — Caribou Biosciences, Sophia Genetics and Absci — all pricing big raises Wednesday and Thursday. Gamma delta T cell-focused IN8bio relaunched its IPO campaign months after postponing it last November, seeking a slightly lower raise. And another SPAC has filed for a public debut.

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Victor Perlroth, Kodiak Sciences CEO

Ko­di­ak turns down $125M pay­ment from Bak­er Bros. deal, slash­es roy­al­ty cap by 55%

Following a massive public raise last November, Kodiak Sciences has re-worked a royalty sale agreement with an old partner — and declined new funds in the process.

Kodiak is turning down a planned $125 million payment from Baker Bros. Advisors, according to an SEC filing, cutting short an agreement that saw the biotech hand over a 4.5% stream of royalty sales on its experimental anti-VEGF therapy KSI-301 for retinal vascular diseases. In conjunction with the move, Kodiak is shrinking the royalty cap from just over $1 billion to $450 million.

EMA re­jects FDA-ap­proved Parkin­son's drug, signs off on Mod­er­na vac­cine use in ado­les­cents ahead of FDA

The European Medicines Agency on Friday rejected Kyowa Kirin’s Parkinson’s disease drug Nouryant (istradefylline), which the US FDA approved in 2019 under the brand name Nourianz.

EMA said it considered that the results of the clinical studies used to support the application “were inconsistent and did not satisfactorily show that Nouryant was effective at reducing the ‘off’ time. Only four out of the eight studies showed a reduction in ‘off’ time, and the effect did not increase with an increased dose of Nouryant.”

6 top drug­mak­ers of­fer per­spec­tives on FDA's new co­vari­ates in RCTs guid­ance

Back in May, the FDA revised and expanded a 2019 draft guidance that spells out how to adjust for covariates in the statistical analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Building on the ICH’s E9 guideline on the statistical principles for clinical trials, the 3-page draft was transformed into an 8-page draft, with more detailed recommendations on linear and nonlinear models to analyze the efficacy endpoints in RCTs.

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Al Sandrock, Biogen R&D chief (Biogen via YouTube)

Bio­gen has a shaky end to H1 with a $542M write-off adding to its woes — but an­a­lysts see big rev­enue ahead for Aduhelm

All eyes at Biogen’s Q2 earnings call Thursday were on Aduhelm, but investors also got a glimpse of what Biogen would have faced had the FDA not opted to approve their controversial Alzheimer’s drug.

That glimpse, revealing a combination of declining sales, growing competition and failed medicines, underscores the stakes of the big biotech’s Aduhelm efforts, as execs punch back at the criticism they’ve engendered in the political and medical world and vigorously pushes its sales staff to roll out the drug as fast as possible.

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