Tap­ping a biotech boom, Chi­na gene edit­ing CRO Bio­cy­to­gen bags $65M round for glob­al ex­pan­sion

Mon­ey is flow­ing in and out of Chi­na, and it’s touch­ing every part of the ecosys­tem. To­day, a Chi­nese CRO spe­cial­iz­ing in an­i­mal mod­els for gene edit­ing and tar­get­ing spread the word that it has reaped a $65 mil­lion Se­ries C round led by do­mes­tic in­vestors.

Bio­cy­to­gen says the pro­ceeds will go to­ward open­ing up mar­kets both in Chi­na and over­seas, prod­uct R&D, fa­cil­i­ty con­struc­tion and tal­ent re­cruit­ment. CMB In­ter­na­tion­al Cap­i­tal Cor­po­ra­tion, the fi­nan­cial arm of Chi­na Mer­chants Bank, led the round, with sup­port from ex­ist­ing in­vestors like SDIC Ven­ture Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment (Se­ries B lead), 3E Bioven­tures, Cowin Cap­i­tal and Oriza Hold­ings.

Yuelei Shen

CEO Yuelei Shen found­ed the com­pa­ny’s Bei­jing head­quar­ters in 2009 af­ter test­ing out the con­cept in Mass­a­chu­setts, where he earned a med­ical de­gree. Since then, he has start­ed a sec­ond lo­ca­tion in Jiang­su and grown the team to 600 staffers, lock­ing in aca­d­e­m­ic and in­dus­try clients like the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ox­ford and J&J.

“In the com­ing five years, glob­al R&D ex­pen­di­ture will con­tin­ue to rise, and the phar­ma CRO in­dus­try will be a di­rect ben­e­fi­cia­ry of that,” said CMB man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Kex­i­ang Zhou in a state­ment. “As part of that glob­al ef­fort, the CRO in­dus­try in Chi­na will keep de­vel­op­ing rapid­ly. The ro­bust de­vel­op­ment of drug R&D in Chi­na will al­so con­tribute to its rise. Bio­cy­to­gen has a sol­id foun­da­tion as an in­te­grat­ed bi­o­log­ics CRO, and we are very hap­py to sup­port their next step.”

As a sup­pli­er of im­mun­od­e­fi­cient and im­mune check­point hu­man­ized mice, Bio­cy­to­gen has ben­e­fit­ed from the tail­wind of im­muno-on­col­o­gy world­wide. Its plat­form is built up­on two sys­tems: one sys­tem de­rived from CRISPR/Cas9 and an­oth­er vec­tor con­struc­tion tech­nol­o­gy fo­cused on em­bry­on­ic stem cells.

Fol­low­ing news of job cuts in Eu­ro­pean R&D ops, Sanofi con­firms it’s of­fer­ing US work­ers an 'ear­ly ex­it'

Ear­li­er in the week we learned that Sanofi was bring­ing out the bud­get ax to trim 466 R&D jobs in Eu­rope, re­tool­ing its ap­proach to car­dio as re­search chief John Reed beefed up their work in can­cer and gene ther­a­pies. And we’re end­ing the week with news that the phar­ma gi­ant has al­so been qui­et­ly re­duc­ing staff in the US, tar­get­ing hun­dreds of jobs as the com­pa­ny push­es vol­un­tary buy­outs with a fo­cus on R&D sup­port ser­vices.

How small- to mid-sized biotechs can adopt pa­tient cen­tric­i­ty in their on­col­o­gy tri­als

By Lucy Clos­sick Thom­son, Se­nior Di­rec­tor of On­col­o­gy Pro­ject Man­age­ment, Icon

Clin­i­cal tri­als in on­col­o­gy can be cost­ly and chal­leng­ing to man­age. One fac­tor that could re­duce costs and re­duce bar­ri­ers is har­ness­ing the pa­tient voice in tri­al de­sign to help ac­cel­er­ate pa­tient en­roll­ment. Now is the time to adopt pa­tient-cen­tric strate­gies that not on­ly fo­cus on pa­tient needs, but al­so can main­tain cost ef­fi­cien­cy.

Why would the FDA ap­prove an­oth­er con­tro­ver­sial drug to spur a woman’s li­bido with these da­ta? And why no ex­pert pan­el re­view?

AMAG Pharmaceuticals’ newly approved drug for spurring women’s sexual desire may never make much money, but it’s a big hit at sparking media attention.

The therapy — Vyleesi (bremelanotide) — got the green light from regulators on Friday evening, swiftly lighting up a range of stories around the world, from The New York Times to The Guardian. Several headlines inevitably referred to it as the “female Viagra,” invoking Pfizer’s old erectile dysfunction blockbuster.

But the two drugs have little in common.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 53,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

John Chiminski, Catalent CEO - File Photo

'It's a growth play': Catal­ent ac­quires Bris­tol-My­er­s' Eu­ro­pean launch pad, ex­pand­ing glob­al CD­MO ops

Catalent is staying on the growth track.

Just two months after committing $1.2 billion to pick up Paragon and take a deep dive into the sizzling hot gene therapy manufacturing sector, the CDMO is bouncing right back with a deal to buy out Bristol-Myers’ central launchpad for new therapies in Europe, acquiring a complex in Anagni, Italy, southwest of Rome, that will significantly expand its capacity on the continent.

There are no terms being offered, but this is no small deal. The Anagni campus employs some 700 staffers, and Catalent is planning to go right in — once the deal closes late this year — with a blueprint to build up the operations further as they expand on oral solid, biologics, and sterile product manufacturing and packaging.

This is an uncommon deal, Catalent CEO John Chiminski tells me. But it offers a shortcut for rapid growth that cuts years out of developing a green fields project. That’s time Catalent doesn’t have as the industry undergoes unprecedented expansion around the world.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 53,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Which top 10 big phar­mas have the most to gain — or lose — over the next 5 years?

When Evaluate Pharma crunched the likely drug sales numbers for the big 10, 2 stood out. 

Takeda, with its big Shire buyout under its belt, is set to almost double its worldwide sales record for 2018 over 5 years, putting it in the big 10 — the 9th spot, to be exact — which is exactly where CEO Christophe Weber wants to be. 

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 53,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Roger Perlmutter. Merck via webcast

'Our lega­cy mat­ter­s': Mer­ck maps out Keytru­da king­dom while spot­light­ing ad­vances in vac­cines, hos­pi­tal care

“You can for the mo­ment stop tak­ing notes. You can put down your pens and your pad. I have no slides. I have no sub­stan­tive da­ta. I have no pitch.”

So be­gan Roger Perl­mut­ter’s brief ap­pear­ance on­stage at Mer­ck’s first in­vestor day in five years, where he dived in­to the com­pa­ny’s his­to­ry dat­ing back to 1933. The first em­ploy­ees at Mer­ck Re­search Lab­o­ra­to­ries, hand­picked by founder George W. Mer­ck, were crit­i­cal to Mer­ck’s abil­i­ty to achieve clin­i­cal and com­mer­cial suc­cess.

Eli Casdin, Casdin Capital

Eli Cas­din backs Codex­is' plat­form tech with $50M eq­ui­ty buy

About a month af­ter Codex­is notched a deal with No­var­tis $NVS, the Cal­i­for­nia com­pa­ny $CDXS on Thurs­day said long-time in­vestor Cas­din Cap­i­tal is putting up $50 mil­lion in a pri­vate place­ment, which puts the New York-based in­vest­ment firm in con­trol of more than 5% of the pro­tein en­gi­neer­ing play­er’s stock.

Eli Cas­din start­ed his epony­mous in­vest­ment firm in 2012 and dates his re­la­tion­ship with Codex­is back to at least a decade. About three years ago, Cas­din Cap­i­tal be­gan in­vest­ing in the in­dus­tri­al biotech com­pa­ny, af­ter it piv­ot­ed its fo­cus to the life sci­ences — un­der the aus­pices of new chief John Nicols — away from the en­er­gy in­dus­try.

John Reed at JPM 2019. Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News

Sanofi's John Reed con­tin­ues to re­or­ga­nize R&D, cut­ting 466 jobs while boost­ing can­cer, gene ther­a­py re­search

The R&D reorganization inside Sanofi is continuing, more than a year after the pharma giant brought in John Reed to head the research arm of the Paris-based company.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 53,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Neil Woodford. Woodford Investment Management via YouTube

Wood­ford braces po­lit­i­cal storm as UK fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tors scru­ti­nize fund sus­pen­sion

The shock of Neil Wood­ford’s de­ci­sion to block with­drawals for his flag­ship fund is still rip­pling through the rest of his port­fo­lio — and be­yond. Un­der po­lit­i­cal pres­sure, UK fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tors are now tak­ing a hard look while in­vestors con­tin­ue to flee.

In a re­sponse let­ter to an MP, the Fi­nan­cial Con­duct Au­thor­i­ty re­vealed that it’s opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to the sus­pen­sion fol­low­ing months of en­gage­ment with Link Fund So­lu­tions, which tech­ni­cal­ly del­e­gat­ed Wood­ford’s firm to man­age its funds.