Lanny Sun, co-founder, CEO and chairman of Full-Life Technologies

Se­quoia Chi­na leads $37M in­fu­sion in­to ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals play­er set­ting up shop in Chi­na and Bel­gium

It’s not just Amer­i­can star­tups that are tun­ing in­to the ris­ing in­ter­est in ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

Se­quoia Chi­na is lead­ing a $37 mil­lion Se­ries A in­to Full-Life Tech­nolo­gies, a biotech head­quar­tered in Shang­hai with of­fices in Brus­sels, Bel­gium, to de­vel­op a pipeline of ra­dioac­tive can­cer ther­a­pies.

The idea isn’t new: As clin­i­cians start­ed rou­tine­ly de­ploy­ing ra­di­a­tion to kill can­cer cells, sci­en­tists and drug­mak­ers have long been ex­plor­ing ways to lim­it that pow­er­ful ef­fect on­ly to can­cer cells while spar­ing healthy cells. But re­cent progress in the pro­duc­tion of ra­dioiso­topes — cou­pled with big in­vest­ments from Big Phar­ma, most no­tably No­var­tis and Bay­er — has in­spired a new wave of star­tups.

Tren­cy Gu

With pro­duc­tion sites in Cheng­du, Chi­na as well as Bel­gium, Full-Life wants to build an “end-to-end so­lu­tion” to dis­cov­er and de­vel­op some of the next-gen­er­a­tion can­di­dates, said Se­quoia Chi­na man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Tren­cy Gu.

Like the rest of the field, the com­pa­ny is work­ing on com­pounds that com­prise two parts: a ra­di­oli­gand to kill tu­mor cells and a guid­ing mol­e­cule to bring them there. It has a num­ber of op­tions on the lat­ter, with op­ti­mized sin­gle do­main an­ti­bod­ies as well as pep­tides. Full-Life said it al­so has its own link­ers to ra­dionu­clides, and pairs each de­vel­op­ment can­di­date with a ther­a­nos­tic nu­clide to gen­er­ate phar­ma­co­ki­net­ics/phar­ma­co­dy­nam­ics da­ta for bet­ter pa­tient se­lec­tion.

Its first tar­gets are fi­brob­last ac­ti­va­tion pro­tein (FAP), Claudin 18.2 and Guany­lyl Cy­clase C.

“The funds will en­able us to ad­vance our lead ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pounds in­to first-in-hu­man stud­ies next year and ac­cel­er­ate the de­vel­op­ment of our glob­al ra­dioiso­tope pro­duc­tion and lo­gis­tics ca­pa­bil­i­ties,” said co-founder, CEO and chair­man Lan­ny Sun.

Sun, who’s al­so a part­ner at Gor­dian Ven­tures, sold his last com­pa­ny, a de­vel­op­er of a com­pu­ta­tion­al drug dis­cov­ery plat­form named Sil­i­con Ther­a­peu­tics, to Roivant for $450 mil­lion in stock.

Al­so join­ing the syn­di­cate are Yu­nion Health­care Ven­tures, Jun­son Cap­i­tal, CD Cap­i­tal and Kun­lun Cap­i­tal.

M&A: a crit­i­cal dri­ver for sus­tain­able top-line growth in health­care

2021 saw a record $600B in healthcare M&A activity. In 2022, there is an anticipated slowdown in activity, however, M&A prospects remain strong in the medium to long-term. What are future growth drivers for the healthcare sector? Where might we see innovations that drive M&A? RBC’s Andrew Callaway, Global Head, Healthcare Investment Banking discusses with Vito Sperduto, Global Co-Head, M&A.

15 LGBTQ lead­ers in bio­phar­ma; Paul Stof­fels’ Gala­pa­gos re­vamp; As­traZeneca catch­es up in AT­TR; 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.

A return to in-person conferences also marks a return to on-the-ground reporting. My colleagues Beth Synder Bulik and Nicole DeFeudis were on-site at Cannes Lions, bringing live coverage of pharma’s presence at the ad festival — accompanied by photos from Clara Bui, our virtual producer, that bring you right to the scene. You can find a recap (and links to all the stories) below.

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David Loew (Ipsen)

Ipsen snags an ap­proved can­cer drug in $247M M&A deal as an­oth­er bat­tered biotech sells cheap

You can add Paris-based Ipsen to the list of discount buyers patrolling the penny stock pack for a cheap M&A deal.

The French biotech, which has had plenty of its own problems to grapple with, has swooped in to buy Epizyme $EPZM for $247 million in cash and a CVR with milestones attached to it. Epizyme shareholders, who had to suffer through a painfully soft launch of their EZH2a inhibitor cancer drug Tazverik, will get $1.45 per share along with a $1 CVR tied to achieving $250 million in sales from the drug over four consecutive quarters as well as an OK for second-line follicular lymphoma by 1 Jan. 2028.

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Yong Dai, Frontera Therapeutics CEO

Scoop: Lit­tle-known Or­biMed-backed biotech clos­es $160M round to start gene ther­a­py tri­al

Frontera Therapeutics, a China and US biotech, has closed a $160 million Series B and received regulatory clearance to test its first gene therapy stateside, Endpoints News has learned.

Led by the largest shareholder, OrbiMed, the biotech has secured $195 million total since its September 2019 founding, according to an email reviewed by Endpoints. The lead AAV gene therapy program is for an undisclosed rare eye disease, according to the source.

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AstraZeneca's new Evusheld direct to consumer campaign aims to reach more immunocompromised patients.

As­traZeneca de­buts first con­sumer cam­paign for its Covid-19 pro­phy­lac­tic Evusheld — and a first for EUA drugs

AstraZeneca’s first consumer ad for Evusheld is also a first for drugs that have been granted emergency use authorizations during the pandemic.

The first DTC ad for a medicine under emergency approval, the Evusheld campaign launching this week aims to raise awareness among immunocompromised patients — and spur more use.

Evusheld nabbed emergency authorization in December, however, despite millions of immunocompromised people looking for a solution and now more widespread availability of the drug.

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DEM BioPharma CEO David Donabedian (L) and executive chair Jan Skvarka

Long­wood sets an­oth­er 'don't eat me' biotech in­to gear with help of for­mer Tril­li­um CEO Jan Skvar­ka

Jonathan Weissman and team are out with a cancer-fighting biotech riding the appetite for those so-called “don’t eat me” and “eat me” signals.

The scientific co-founder — alongside fellow Whitehead Institute colleague Kipp Weiskopf and Stanford biologist Michael Bassik — has launched DEM BioPharma with incubator Longwood Fund and a crop of other investors.

In all, the nascent, 10-employee biotech has $70 million to bankroll hematology- and solid tumor-based programs, including a lead asset that could enter human trials in two to three years, CEO David Donabedian told Endpoints News.

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Spanish Prime Minister Pédro Sanchez and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

EU to launch vac­cine de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing part­ner­ship with Latin Amer­i­can and Caribbean coun­tries

While European companies, including BioNTech, are focused on increasing vaccine access to African countries by setting up vaccine manufacturing facilities, the European Union is looking westward to Latin America and the Caribbean.

Speaking at a press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Pédro Sanchez, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said that the EU is launching a new initiative for vaccines and medicines manufacturing in Latin America, to get drugs to Latin America and the Caribbean faster.

invoX Pharma CEO Ben Toogood (L) and F-star CEO Eliot Forster

F-star bought out in $161M all-cash deal as Hong Kong's Sino Bio­pharm looks to­ward in­ter­na­tion­al ex­pan­sion

After more than a decade and a half of charting its own course, F-star Therapeutics will now settle under a new umbrella company.

The UK biotech will be acquired by invoX Pharma, a subsidiary of Hong Kong’s Sino Biopharm, in a roughly $161 million all-cash deal, the companies announced Thursday morning. F-star’s buyout will value its shares $FSTX at $7.12 apiece, nearly an 80% premium above Wednesday’s closing price.

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GSK says its drug for chron­ic hep B could ‘lead to a func­tion­al cure’ — but will it be alone or in com­bi­na­tion?

GSK, newly branded and soon-to-be demerged, shared interim results from its Phase II trial on its chronic hepatitis B treatment, one that it says has the “potential to lead to a functional cure.”

At a presentation at the EASL International Liver Congress, GSK shared that in around 450 patients who received its hep B drug bepirovirsen for 24 weeks, just under 30% had hepatitis B surface antigen and viral DNA levels that were too low to detect.