Hepeng Shi, Avistone CEO

Vi­vo Cap­i­tal, Bain, Pri­mav­era pour $200M in­to vir­tu­al­ly un­known tar­get­ed on­col­o­gy play out of Chi­na

Hong­bo Lu was a board mem­ber at Crown­Bio, a pre­clin­i­cal on­col­o­gy CRO, when a lo­cal com­pa­ny — so lo­cal it didn’t even have an Eng­lish name — li­censed a c-Met in­hibitor from them. Then they didn’t think much about it.

Over the next eight years though, Lu, a part­ner at Vi­vo Cap­i­tal, watched the biotech boot­strap it­self, build­ing a whole pipeline and dis­cov­ery ca­pa­bil­i­ties around the an­chor­ing as­set.

Im­pressed by what they saw, Vi­vo Cap­i­tal has now teamed up with Bain Cap­i­tal and Pri­mav­era to in­fuse $200 mil­lion in­to the com­pa­ny — which ac­tu­al­ly has been op­er­at­ing un­der two sep­a­rate en­ti­ties man­aged by the same team. The Se­ries A will buy out the an­gel in­vestors who have been fund­ing the work, and put all the pro­grams un­der the same um­brel­la.

They’re call­ing it Avi­s­tone Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

“Vi­vo in­vests in health­care glob­al­ly,” Lu said in an in­ter­view with End­points News. “As we look at the land­scape in Chi­na, we see tremen­dous in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in in­no­va­tion, but more com­plex pri­vate eq­ui­ty deals have emerged as well. Avi­s­tone ac­tu­al­ly is the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of both in our view.”

The size of the round is large by any re­gard, but Avi­s­tone is spe­cial in an­oth­er way: Un­like many of the flashy up­starts that boast of founders and ex­ec­u­tives with glob­al ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with multi­na­tion­als, the ré­sumés of Avi­s­tone ex­ecs — all the way down from CEO Hep­eng Shi — are full of po­si­tions at lo­cal Chi­nese phar­ma com­pa­nies.

“This man­age­ment team is very low key. We see tremen­dous val­ue in their ex­e­cu­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ty,” Lu said. “We think their lo­cal ex­e­cu­tion in Chi­na is one of the best.”

With a pitch cen­tered around tar­get­ed on­col­o­gy ther­a­pies, those skills could be es­pe­cial­ly im­por­tant in terms of speed­ing up the time to ap­proval, not­ed Bain life sci­ences man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Ricky Sun. Avi­s­tone has “com­pelling clin­i­cal da­ta” to show for its ty­ro­sine ki­nase in­hibitors, added Ji­aqi Zheng, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Pri­mav­era Cap­i­tal.

The c-Met drug re­mains in the lead, and it’s in late-stage tri­als for ge­net­i­cal­ly-de­fined pop­u­la­tions of non-small cell lung can­cer and glioblas­toma. Chi­na’s NM­PA has grant­ed it break­through ther­a­py des­ig­na­tion.

What the in­vestors are hop­ing to achieve is to add a glob­al touch — el­e­vat­ing it to the in­ter­na­tion­al stage and bring­ing in po­ten­tial part­ners when the time is ripe. And they be­lieve the com­pa­ny has what it takes it stand out, even if it’s most­ly stay­ing be­hind a veil right now.

“The man­age­ment team has been very per­sis­tent in their pur­suit of de­vel­op­ing can­cer drugs,” Lu said. “Dr. Shi has such grit to work on this ef­fort for close to 10 years, and that’s a re­flec­tion of com­mit­ment.”

MedTech clinical trials require a unique regulatory and study design approach and so engaging a highly experienced CRO to ensure compliance and accurate data across all stages is critical to development milestones.

In­no­v­a­tive MedTech De­mands Spe­cial­ist Clin­i­cal Tri­al Reg­u­la­to­ry Af­fairs and De­sign

Avance Clinical is the Australian CRO for international biotechs providing world-class clinical research services with FDA-accepted data across all phases. With Avance Clinical, biotech companies can leverage Australia’s supportive clinical trials environment which includes no IND requirement plus a 43.5% Government incentive rebate on clinical spend. The CRO has been delivering clinical drug development services for international biotechs for FDA and EMA regulatory approval for the past 24 years. The company has been recognized for the past two consecutive years with the prestigious Frost & Sullivan CRO Best Practices Award and a finalist in Informa Pharma’s Best CRO award for 2022.

Tony Coles, Cerevel CEO

Cerev­el takes the pub­lic of­fer­ing route, with a twist — rais­ing big mon­ey thanks to ri­val da­ta

As public biotechs seek to climb out of the bear market, a popular strategy to raise cash has been through public offerings on the heels of positive data. But one proposed raise Wednesday appeared to take advantage not of a company’s own data, but those from a competitor.

Cerevel Therapeutics plans to raise $250 million in a public offering and another $250 million in debt, the biotech announced Wednesday afternoon, even though it did not report any news on its pipeline. However, the move comes days after rival Karuna Therapeutics touted positive Phase III data in schizophrenia, a field where Cerevel is pursuing a similar program.

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Who are the women blaz­ing trails in bio­phar­ma R&D? Nom­i­nate them for End­points' 2022 spe­cial re­port

Over the past three years, Endpoints News has spotlighted 60 women who have blazed trails and supercharged R&D across the biopharma world. And judging from the response we’ve received, to both our special reports and live events, telling their stories — including any obstacles they may have had to overcome — has inspired our readers in many different ways.

But change takes time, and the fact remains that women are still underrepresented at the upper ranks of the drug-making world.

Bernat Olle, Vedanta Biosciences CEO

Cit­ing 'chal­leng­ing eco­nom­ic en­vi­ron­ment,' PhI­II-ready mi­cro­bio­me biotech lays off 20% of staffers

The market downturn isn’t just sweeping up public biotechs.

Vedanta Biosciences, a developer of oral drugs derived from the human microbiome, is laying off about 20% of its staff — an unfortunately common occurrence these days. But CEO Bernat Olle took the unusual step of sharing the decision on LinkedIn and offering to connect the employees being let go with any company that’s hiring in their areas.

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Hervé Affagard, MaaT Pharma CEO

One year in­to clin­i­cal hold, FDA has more ques­tions about 'pooled' mi­cro­bio­me ther­a­py

The FDA is still wary about a trial testing a microbiome therapy in patients with steroid-resistant acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD).

A year after MaaT Pharma’s IND application in the US was first met with a clinical hold, the French biotech said the agency is maintaining the hold. The crux of the matter, MaaT suggested, has to do with the way it puts together its drug candidate, which is administered as an enema (i.e. an injection of fluid into the bowel).

Up­dat­ed: Amid mas­sive re­struc­tur­ing, Bio­gen looks to re­duce phys­i­cal pres­ence in Boston

Biogen is putting a sizable chunk of office and research space in Kendall Square and Weston, MA up for sublease, marking another big change as the biotech grapples with the aftershock of a disastrous and controversial rollout for its Alzheimer’s drug.

The subbleases are “part of Biogen’s overall implementation of the ‘Future of Work,’ which is allowing us to optimize our footprint and reduce the amount of space we occupy, taking into consideration new elements such as the hybrid work model,” Biogen spokesperson Ashleigh Koss wrote in a statement to Endpoints News, adding that the company has had subleases across several buildings for years.

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Pfiz­er launch­es re­bate pro­gram for rare dis­ease pa­tients who have to stop tak­ing Panzy­ga

Pfizer is launching its second-ever rebate program, this time for Panzyga, its treatment for a rare neurological disease of the peripheral nerves.

The program began last month, according to STAT which first reported the news, and offers a refund of out-of-pocket costs for patients who must discontinue their course before the fifth treatment for “clinical reasons.”

Panzyga was approved back in 2018 to treat primary immunodeficiency (PI) in patients two years and older and chronic immune thrombocytopenia (cITP) in adults. It has since picked up an indication in chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), a condition that’s characterized by weakness of the arms or legs, tingling or numbness, and a loss of deep tendon reflexes, according to the NIH.

Horizon's back-to-school campaign for children with cystinosis includes an all about me poster as part of a care package box.

Hori­zon read­ies kids and fam­i­lies for back to school with week­long ac­tiv­i­ties around rare dis­ease cysti­nosis

Going back to school is usually a bumpy readjustment from summer freedom for all kids, but especially for kids with chronic health conditions. Horizon Therapeutics is hoping to help smooth the way for some who have the rare disease cystinosis. Cystinosis is a genetic disease that causes the amino acid cystine to build up in different tissues and organs.

The “Gear Up” for school campaign is running all week with different online and at-home events and activities for families and children with cystinosis. Each family who signed up receives a care package mailed to their home including an activity coloring book “Michael’s Show-and-Tell.” The book tells Michael’s story about living with cystinosis while offering kids matching, coloring and finding object games along with information.

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Alessandro Maselli, Catalent CEO

Catal­ent ac­quires North Car­oli­na CD­MO for $475M, boost­ing oral solids work

As Catalent has been expanding its reach in the US this year, as well as recently completing a C-suite shuffle, the company announced last night that it has acquired the CDMO Metrics Contract Services for $475 million from Mayne Pharma Group.

The acquisition will increase Catalent’s capabilities in oral solid formulation development, manufacturing and packaging as well as expand its capacity to handle more highly potent compounds.

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