Spreading its wings in China with global ambition, EpimAb snags $74M Series B for bispecific work
PHILADELPHIA — A Shanghai-based biotech looking to make it big in the global bispecific boom has $74 million to both deepen and broaden its presence in the clinic.
With the Series B, EpimAb Biotherapeutics hopes to offer not only proof that its platform tech works, but that it works across multiple programs. By the end of next year, it intends to have Phase I/II data on 60 patients for its lead asset targeting EGFR and cMET as well as a second trial — for a dual checkpoint inhibitor — well under way.
The ultimate goal, COO and CBO Stephan Lensky tells me, is to go head-to-head with all the bigwigs trying to tackle two cancer antigens at once.
“We are the only format that has no linkers, no mutations, no single chain Fv, also no non-Ig components,” he said. “It basically has the fundamental elements of an antibody in it, and because of the symmetric nature of the molecule it’s also very straight forward to manufacture.”
Lensky, a Boehringer Ingelheim vet who’s kept his home base in Germany while traversing the globe for partnership and financing talks, adds that EMB-01 took only 15 months from candidate identification to IND filing on both sides of the Atlantic. And in China, they got the go-ahead in 45 days — a record, he claims. In 2017, the CFDA reported a 120 day average turnaround for INDs.
Kymab and Innovent have also licensed the platform to generate their own molecules, independent from the internal work.
EpimAb will also begin work on a CMC site in Suzhou. With the upcoming pipeline of molecules, they want to have the process development and early manufacturing done in-house instead of relying on service organizations.
CEO and Abbott vet Chengbin Wu together with CMO Bin Peng, who jumped from a top research position at Novartis, are in charge of the on-the-ground operations, which will grow well into the 40s if not more with new hires.
The company now counts SDIC Fund and Sherpa Healthcare Partners among its backers in addition to SCVC and A round investors including Oriza Seed Capital, Decheng Capital, 3E Bioventures Capital and the Trend Investment Group.