In another sign that China’s up-and-coming biotech community continues to gather steam, an upstart called EpimAb Biotherapeutics has hauled in a $25 million A round to go after clinical studies for its bispecific antibodies designed for immuno-oncology.
EpimAb is another example of a local Shanghai company with global roots. Its CEO is Chengbin Wu, a Harvard postdoc who had worked at Abbott before being named CSO at Shanghai CP Guojian Pharmaceutical. According to COO and chief business exec Stephan Lensky, a Boehringer Ingelheim vet, Chengbin Wu has been working on a bispecific antibody platform. And his old boss at Abbott, Robert Kamen, sits on the board. Kamen was the interim tech chief at Jounce Therapeutics when it launched and is an entrepreneur-in-resident at Third Rock, which is not involved in this round.
EpimAb gained a major assist last fall with its announced collaboration with Kymab, a UK biotech which has attracted close attention for its antibody design work.
Chengbin Wu has “always had a dream of using his own technology in his own company,” Lensky tells me in a call from Germany.
The strategy, he says, is to “use the therapeutic advantages of known antibodies and translate these effects into bispecifics” with a cut-and-paste approach that the CEO has developed. The platform is dubbed the Fabs-In-Tandem Immunoglobulin (or FIT-Ig). Kymab’s role is supplying a lot of those building blocks and the two companies have a deal to split up the global market for any products that come out of the relationship.
EpimAb is small, Lensky says there are seven full timers now, with plans to grow the team to 15 to 20 now that the Series A has landed. If all goes according to plan, they can be in the clinic in 2018 with their lead therapy.
Oriza Seed Capital led the round, which included investments from Decheng Capital, 3E Bioventures Capital and the Trend Investment Group.
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