Six years separated from a rabies vaccine scandal, China’s YishengBio grabs $130M to go big in infectious diseases, cancer
In another boost to the global vaccine field, top investors in China have huddled together to inject $130 million into Beijing-based YishengBio.
Co-led by Oceanpine and OrbiMed, the Series B now gives the biotech an enviable list of marquee domestic VCs: EightRoad, F-Prime Capital, 3W Capital, Hillhouse Capital, MSA Capital, AIHC, Epiphron Capital, Superstring Capital and Haitong International. The standout here is Adjuvant Capital, a public-health-minded crew with ties to the Gates Foundation.
“Chinese biotech companies are playing an increasingly significant role in the innovation era of the whole world,” Iris Wang, managing director of Orbimed Asia-Pacific, said in a statement.
Founded in 1992, YishengBio’s signature product is YSJA, an alum-free lyophilized rabies vaccine that it says has inoculated 16 million people in China.
It was the subject of a scandal in 2014 when the China FDA told their subsidiary, Liaoning Yisheng, that three batches of their rabies vaccine had failed sterility tests. But execs, including founder Zhang Yi, said that had come after almost two years of seeking regulatory approval, which amounted to a dereliction of duty and a “barrier against technological innovation” on the officials’ part.
Six years and a series of sweeping reforms later, YishengBio is operating in a much different China. It now has a foot in the USA and Singapore, with 500 employees in total. And the new programs in the pipeline — which spans infectious diseases and cancer — are developed on the PIKA platform. According to the company, the technology “augments both innate and adaptive immune responses through the TLR3, RIG-I and MDA5 pathways.”
CEO David Shao is eyeing a global multicenter Phase III trial for a new rabies vaccine designed for post-exposure immune protection.
“This new round of capital will accelerate the building of our management and R&D teams and will facilitate the growth of our pipeline and construction of production sites both at home and abroad,” he said in a statement.
Reports suggest it would also set the stage for a quick IPO that could fetch $200 million.
Yisheng is also working on PIKA YS-SC2-010, a prophylactic and therapeutic vaccine candidate against Covid-19. Other products include:
- YS-ON-001 for the treatment of advanced solid tumors
- YS-HBV-001 for hepatitis B
- PIKA YS-HBV-002 for chronic HBV
- PIKA YS-ON-002 for solid tumor