China, Venture

Shanghai-based cancer drugmaker Abbisko lines up $42M B round as it makes a leap for the clinic

Qiming Ventures is leading a B round for Abbisko Therapeutics, more than doubling the Shanghai-based biotech’s previous haul as it hustles a pair of homegrown cancer drugs toward an IND.

Yaochang Xu

Abbisko Therapeutics recently moved into GlaxoSmithKline’s old facilities at Zhangjiang High Tech Park, where founder Yaochang Xu set foot 16 years ago while setting up a contract research venture for Eli Lilly. Xu — a seasoned early development exec who helped breath life into the migraine drug lasmiditan — was later poached by Novartis to launch and run its R&D center in China. There, he met Hongping Yu and Zhui Chen, overseas returnees 10 and 20 years his junior respectively. Xu and Yu would later move to Hansoh, but the rigorous academic and project discussions among them had planted a seed for the official founding of Abbisko in 2016.

With Chen well versed in cutting-edge medical research, Xu experienced in early-stage development and Yu adept in later-stage clinical work, the trio resolved from the beginning to create small molecule oncology drugs from scratch. The focus is on cancers prevalent among Asian populations — and offering either first- or best-in-class products.

Hongping Yu

Two of the company’s drugs will enter clinical trials in the coming months, with a slate of programs to follow after lead optimization.

“Beginning in 2019, we will have at least one to two programs entering the clinical development stage,” Xu told PharmCube last October, adding that Abbisko is starting with more validated targets like FGFR4 and CSF-1R before moving into fresher and riskier ones.

Zhui Chen

Abbisko is coming of age at a time China’s biopharma industry is undergoing a transformation on a Cambrian scale as described by McKinsey’s Franck Le Deu days ago, with oncology making up the bulk of the collective pipeline. And it could very well provide some of the momentum for the burst of true, breakthrough innovation that Le Deu has predicted.

CICC Capital, Loyal Valley Capital and an unnamed international sovereign wealth fund joined the Series B, which also featured existing investors Lilly Asia Ventures and TF Capital Investments.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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