The bio­phar­ma fund­ing en­gine mo­tors on, as Chi­nese biotech rais­es near­ly $280M in mon­ster round

We have more ev­i­dence to­day that the ap­petite for bio­phar­ma fi­nanc­ing is alive and kick­ing, the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic be damned.

Re­ports emerged on Wednes­day that Shang­hai-based Mab­well Biotech has raised a mam­moth $278.5 mil­lion in a Se­ries A in­jec­tion, led by Chi­nese ven­ture cap­i­tal firm Shiyu Cap­i­tal.

Mab­well, es­tab­lished in 2017, de­vel­ops mon­o­clon­al an­ti­bod­ies and long-act­ing re­com­bi­nant pro­teins, among oth­er drugs, and is ex­pect­ed to de­but its first drug on the mar­ket this year. The com­pa­ny has al­so launched sev­en sub­sidiaries fo­cused on R&D and the pro­duc­tion of bio­med­ical prod­ucts.

In late March, Mab­well tied up with fel­low Chi­nese start­up Bio­theus, which is fo­cused on an­ti­bod­ies. Their joint ven­ture will fo­cus on the de­vel­op­ment, pro­duc­tion and sale of Bio­theus’ ex­per­i­men­tal bis­pe­cif­ic an­ti­body, PM8001.

A group of Chi­nese do­mes­tic com­pa­nies par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Mab­well’s round, in­clud­ing Ori­en­tal For­tune Cap­i­tal, Haitong Se­cu­ri­ties’ pri­vate eq­ui­ty unit Haitong Cap­i­tal, and Loy­al Val­ley Cap­i­tal, Deal­Stree­tA­sia re­port­ed, cit­ing a Mab­well WeChat post on Tues­day.

De­spite the glob­al mar­ket rout, the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic has been some­what kinder to the bio­phar­ma world, which in re­cent weeks and months has seen a de­cent bit of fundrais­ing from ven­ture cap­i­tal firms, IPOs, and rounds of fi­nanc­ing.

Ear­li­er this month, Chi­na-based life sci­ences VC Qim­ing Ven­ture Part­ners closed $1.1 bil­lion for its sev­enth fund.

“Chi­na has less ex­po­sure here be­cause it ap­pears as though tri­al ini­ti­a­tion and re­cruit­ment has re­sumed in Chi­na, where­as in the U.S. it may be sev­er­al more months,” Qim­ing man­ag­ing part­ner Gary Ri­eschel told End­points News.

In ear­ly April, a Chi­nese biotech fo­cused on de­liv­er­ing the first new lu­pus drug in decades — Re­meGen — gen­er­at­ed more than $100 mil­lion in a fresh round of fi­nanc­ing, led by Lil­ly Asia Ven­tures and Lake Bleu Cap­i­tal.

#ES­MO20: Trodelvy da­ta show that Gilead­'s $21B buy­out may have been worth the big pre­mi­um

Gilead CEO Dan O’Day has been on a shopping spree. And while some analysts gawked at the biotech’s recent $21 billion Immunomedics buyout, new data released at virtual ESMO 2020 suggest the acquisition may have been worth the hefty price.

The deal, announced last weekend, gives California-based Gilead $GILD Trodelvy, which was recently approved for metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (mTNBC).

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#ES­MO20: As­traZeneca bur­nish­es Tagris­so's ad­ju­vant NSCLC pro­file with 'un­prece­dent­ed' re­duc­tion in brain mets. Can they win over skep­tics?

When AstraZeneca trumpeted “momentous” and “transformative” results for Tagrisso earlier this year at ASCO, some practitioners threw cold water on the ADAURA fervor. Sure, the disease-free survival data look good, but overall survival is the endpoint that matters when it comes to choosing adjuvant therapy for non-small cell lung cancer patients, the experts said.

The OS data still aren’t here, but AstraZeneca is back at ESMO to bolster their case with a look at brain metastasis data.

Dan Skovronsky, Eli Lilly CSO

UP­DAT­ED: An­a­lysts are quick to pan Eli Lil­ly's puz­zling first cut of pos­i­tive clin­i­cal da­ta for its Covid-19 an­ti­body

Eli Lilly spotlighted a success for one of 3 doses of their closely-watched Covid-19 antibody drug Wednesday morning. But analysts quickly highlighted some obvious anomalies that could come back to haunt the pharma giant as it looks for an emergency use authorization to launch marketing efforts.

The pharma giant reported that LY-CoV555, developed in collaboration with AbCellera, significantly reduced the rate of hospitalization among patients who were treated with the antibody. The drug arm of the study had a 1.7% hospitalization rate, compared to 6% in the control group, marking a 72% drop in risk.

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Exelixis CEO Michael Morrissey (file photo)

#ES­MO20: Look out Mer­ck. Bris­tol My­ers and Ex­elix­is stake out their com­bo’s claim to best-in-class sta­tus for front­line kid­ney can­cer

Now that the PD-(L)1 checkpoints are deeply entrenched in the oncology market, it’s time to welcome a wave of combination therapies — beyond chemo — looking to extend their benefit to larger numbers of patients. Bristol Myers Squibb ($BMY} and Exelixis {EXEL} are close to the front of that line.

Today at ESMO the collaborators pulled the curtain back on some stellar data for their combination of Opdivo (the PD-1) and Cabometyx (the TKI), marking a significant advance for the blockbuster Bristol Myers franchise while offering a big leg up for the team at Exelixis.

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Donald Trump and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, before boarding Marine One (Getty Images)

Pric­ing deal col­laps­es over Big Phar­ma's re­fusal to is­sue $100 'cash card­s' be­fore the elec­tion — re­port

Late in August, as negotiations on a pricing deal with President Trump reached a boiling point, PhRMA president Stephen Ubl sent an email update to the 34 biopharma chiefs that sit on his board. He wrote that if the industry did not agree to pay for a $100 “cash card” sent to seniors before November, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was going to tell the news media Big Pharma was refusing to “share the savings” with the elderly — and that all of the blame for failed drug pricing negotiations would lie squarely on the industry.

#ES­MO20: Alk­er­mes of­fers their first snap­shot of a ben­e­fit for their next-gen IL-2 drug. But why did 1 pa­tient starve to death?

Everyone in the cancer R&D arena is looking to build new franchises around better drugs and combos. And one busy pocket of that space is centered entirely on creating an IL-2 drug that can be as effective as the original without the toxicity that damned it to the sidelines.

Alkermes $ALKS formally tossed its hat into the ring of contenders at virtual ESMO today, highlighting the first glimpse of efficacy for their candidate, ALKS 4230, as both a monotherapy as well as in combination with Merck’s Keytruda.

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Albert Bourla (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

Pfiz­er match­es Mod­er­na with their full Covid-19 tri­al blue­print — As­traZeneca says it will un­veil its pro­to­col 'short­ly'

Yesterday, after sustained public pressure as Moderna released its Phase III Covid-19 trial blueprint, Pfizer released its own full trial design for their vaccine trials. The move was designed to boost transparency and shore up public trust in the vaccines, but it also revealed differences in how the two companies are approaching the much-watched studies while failing to satisfy the demands of the fiercest advocates for transparency.

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Stronger to­geth­er? Boehringer and Mi­rati team to put first KRAS-KRAS com­bo in the clin­ic

Researchers are still waiting to see how much any of the vaunted KRAS drugs now in the clinic can, after decades of preclinical research and some early human studies, help patients. But while they do, two of the leading developers will look to see whether a KRAS-KRAS combo might pose a better shot than any KRAS alone.

Boehringer Ingelheim and Mirati have signed a collaboration to combine Mirati’s closely-watched lead KRAS inhibitor, MRTX849, in a clinical trial with the pan-KRAS blocker that Boehringer has quietly developed with high expectations behind their flashier contenders.

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#ES­MO20: Re­gen­eron, Sanofi eye an­oth­er first for their PD-1 con­tender Lib­tayo with promis­ing da­ta for on­col­o­gy niche

Regeneron and Sanofi took another step forward in the long march towards a greatly expanded market for their late-bloomer PD-1 checkpoint Libtayo.

The two occasional allies posted an objective response rate of 31% for Libtayo among 84 patients suffering from advanced cases of basal cell carcinoma at virtual ESMO. That spotlights progress for 26 patients, 5 of whom had a complete response. The data also reflect a boost in the number of responses seen from the last cut of the numbers.

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