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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His­toric drug pric­ing re­forms pass; Pfiz­er ac­quires GBT; The long search for non-opi­oid pain drugs; 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.

The Endpoints Weekly has officially crossed the 60,000 mark on subscribers — thanks to all of your support. As the editorial team grows, we’ve been able to do a lot more, with many of those on display this week. Be sure to check out Lei Lei Wu’s deep dive on pain R&D. If you missed it, you may also rewatch her companion panel here.

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Gold for adults, sil­ver for in­fants: Pfiz­er's Pre­vnar 2.0 head­ed to FDA months af­ter Mer­ck­'s green light

Pfizer was first to the finish line for the next-gen pneumococcal vaccine in adults, but Merck beat its rival with a jab for children in June.

Now, two months after Merck’s 15-valent Vaxneuvance won the FDA stamp of approval for kids, Pfizer is out with some late-stage data on its 20-valent shot for infants.

Known as Prevnar 20 for adults, Pfizer’s 20vPnC will head to the FDA by the end of this year for an approval request in infants, the Big Pharma said Friday morning. Discussions with the FDA will occur first and more late-stage pediatric trials are expected to read out soon, informing the regulatory pathway in other countries and regions.

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No­var­tis re­ports two pa­tient deaths af­ter treat­ment with Zol­gens­ma

Two children with spinal muscular atrophy have died after receiving Novartis’ Zolgensma, a gene therapy designed as a one-time treatment for the rare fatal disease.

The deaths, which resulted from acute liver failure, occurred in Russia and Kazakhstan, Novartis confirmed in a statement to Endpoints News. Having notified health authorities across all the markets where Zolgensma is available, it will update the drug label “to specify that fatal acute liver failure has been reported,” a spokesperson wrote.

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House pass­es his­toric drug pric­ing re­forms, lin­ing up decades-in-the-mak­ing win for Biden and De­moc­rats

The US House of Representatives today voted along party lines (all Dems voted for it), 220-207 to pass new, wide-ranging legislation that will allow Medicare drug price negotiations for the first time ever, and cap seniors’ drug expenses to $2,000 per year and seniors’ insulin costs at $35 per month.

Setting up a major victory for President Joe Biden, representatives returned from their summer recess to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, even as many noted the bill would only modestly reduce inflation.

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Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) (Francis Chung/E&E News/POLITICO via AP Images)

Sen­ate Fi­nance chair con­tin­ues his in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to phar­ma tax­es with re­quests for Am­gen

Amgen is the latest pharma company to appear on the radar of Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR), who is investigating the way pharma companies are using subsidiaries in low- or zero-tax countries to lower their tax bills.

Like its peers Merck, AbbVie and Bristol Myers Squibb, Wyden notes how Amgen uses its Puerto Rico operations to consistently pay tax rates that are substantially lower than the U.S. corporate tax rate of 21%, with an effective tax rate of 10.7% in 2020 and 12.1% in 2021.

FDA ap­proves sec­ond in­di­ca­tion for As­traZeneca and Dai­ichi's En­her­tu in less than a week

AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo’s antibody-drug conjugate Enhertu scored its second approval in less than a week, this time for a subset of lung cancer patients.

Enhertu received accelerated approval on Thursday to treat adults with unresectable or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors have activating HER2 (ERBB2) mutations, and who have already received a prior systemic therapy.

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J&J to re­move talc prod­ucts from shelves world­wide, re­plac­ing with corn­starch-based port­fo­lio

After controversially spinning out its talc liabilities and filing for bankruptcy in an attempt to settle 38,000 lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson is now changing up the formula for its baby powder products.

J&J is beginning the transition to an all cornstarch-based baby powder portfolio, the pharma giant announced on Thursday — just months after a federal judge ruled in favor of its “Texas two-step” bankruptcy to settle allegations that its talc products contained asbestos and caused cancer. An appeals court has since agreed to revisit that case.

CSL is gathering its four business units under a unified brand identity strategy (Credit: CSL company site)

CSL brings Se­qirus, Vi­for un­der par­ent um­brel­la brand in iden­ti­ty re­vamp

CSL is gathering its brands under the family name umbrella, renaming its vaccine and newly acquired nephrology specialty businesses with the parent initials.

CSL Seqirus and CSL Vifor join CSL Plasma and CSL Behring as the four now uniformly branded business units of the global biopharma. The Seqirus vaccine division was formed in 2015 with the combination of bioCSL and its purchase of Novartis’ flu vaccine business. CSL picked up Vifor Pharma late last year in an $11.7 billion deal for the nephrology, iron deficiency and cardio-renal drug developer.

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