Week in Review: VectorBuilder Raises $57M for CDMO Gene Therapy Delivery

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Chicago-based VectorBuilder, a gene therapy delivery CDMO, raised $57 million in a Series C round from Chinese investors (see history). VectorBuilder develops and optimizes gene delivery products for research institutions and pharmaceutical companies. Earlier this year, VectorBuilder announced plans to build a $500 million gene delivery research and manufacturing campus in Guangzhou. Round C was co-led by Legend Capital, Suikai Investment (55% owned by state-owned Guangzhou Development District Investment Group), and Yuexiu Industrial Fund, a PE investor.

Hangzhou-based JHM Biopharma has completed a $28 million Series A1 round to support its biologics for childhood genetic diseases, anti-aging, anti-virus and new biologics (see history). The company’s R&D portfolio is structured around metabolism, medical aesthetics, and other high-market protein drugs. Its leading products include recombinant botulinum toxin type A and growth hormone. The round was co-led by Tonghua Investment Group and Guangdian Capital, with participation from Zhonghe Oupu Medical and Health Fund, Focus Fund and Hongshi Capital.

Hangzhou-based Celgenyx completed a $14 million Series A round to support the development of its ready-to-use cell therapies, either through partnerships or its own R&D (see history). All capital was contributed by Vivo Partners from a RMB fund. Hangzhou Celgenyx is a development-stage biotech dedicated to the acquisition and development of next-generation cellular immunotherapies for malignant cancers. Celgenyx expects to complete the construction of a 3,000-square-meter R&D center and GMP pilot production base in Hangzhou before the end of 2022.

MaxiNovel Pharmaceuticals closed a $14 million Series C+ round to support its pipeline of eight small molecule and immunotherapy candidates (see history). MaxiNovel’s lead product is a small-molecule PD-L1 inhibitor that matched the efficacy of Durvalumab in a human PD-1 knock-in mouse model. The company is developing products for hematological tumors, solid tumors and autoimmune diseases using its oral, radiotherapy and transdermal platforms. The C+ round funds were obtained from LAPAM Capital, Zhongxin Capital and Deyi Runrong Venture Capital.

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ImmVira, a Shenzhen company developing next-generation cancer drug vectors, has signed Series-C+ financing documents with the first batch of investors (see history). The company will keep the round open for up to two months. He told investors that they can also invest under the same terms as those set by the lead investor and ImmVira. The C+ round was led by China Merchants China Direct Investments Limited with participation from Lifebay and Unifortune Group.

Shanghai JW Therapeutics (HK: 2126) will partner with Boston’s 2seventy bio (TSVT) to use 2seventy’s cell therapy platform to develop T-cell-based immunotherapies for Greater China (see history). The collaboration will initially focus on 2seventy bio’s MAGE-A4 TCR program in solid tumors. JW will be responsible for development, manufacturing and marketing within China. 2seventy bio will receive milestones and royalty payments on revenue in China, and 2seventy may use JW’s clinical data to support development outside of China. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Shenzhen Salubris Pharmaceuticals (SHZ: 002264) signed a joint development agreement with Anlong Bio of Beijing, a gene therapy company, to develop small molecule nucleic acid drugs for hypertension (see history). Anlong will use its ANOG small molecule nucleic acid drug technology platform for discovery, while Salubris will be responsible for development, clinical trials and commercialization. Although Salubris will have exclusive global rights to the hypertension therapy, the two companies will share the revenue. Founded in 2018, Anlong Bio has 12 ongoing pre-clinical projects and one licensed clinical-stage asset.

Tests and Approvals

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Shanghai Fosun Kite reported that China’s NMPA accepted its NDA application for the company’s CAR-T as a second-line therapy for large B-cell lymphoma (see history). A year ago, Yikaida was approved for third-line use in the same disease. Fosun Kite is a joint venture in charge of bringing Kite’s Yescarta to China. The drug, axicabtagene ciloleucel, is an autologous CAR CD19 T-cell therapy manufactured in China under license from Kite. The new indication will be for adult patients with large B-cell lymphoma who did not respond to first-line immunochemotherapy or who relapsed within 12 months.

Hangzhou Ascletis Pharma (HK: 1672) has filed an IND application in the US to begin testing of its oral antiviral candidate to treat monkeypox virus (see history). ASC10, which is already in a phase Ib trial in the US for SARS-CoV-2 viruses, showed efficacy against monkeypox in preclinical models, according to Ascletis. Monkeypox is an orthopoxvirus that causes a disease with symptoms similar to smallpox. There have been more than 75,000 confirmed cases worldwide, with 28,000 of them in the US.

Hangzhou-based Akeso (HK: 9926) announced that China’s CDE has granted advance designation for its PD-1/VEGF bispecific antibody as second-line therapy for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). with EGFR mutations (see history). Ivonescimab will be given together with chemotherapy. The Phase III candidate is a bispecific PD-1/VEGF molecule, the first of its kind, and the first of its kind to enter a clinical registration trial. Last month, Ivonescimab received Breakthrough status as a first-line treatment for patients with PD-L1-positive NSCLC.

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Disclosure: none.

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Publisher’s note: The bullet points in this article were chosen by the editors of Seeking Alpha.

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