Innovent Receives $305M Investment From Sanofi; Becomes partner of two candidates in China

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offers and financing

Suzhou Innovent Biologics (HK:01801) will develop two of Sanofi’s cancer candidates for use in China, with Sanofi investing US$305 million in Innovent stock in a complicated, money-flowing two-way deal (see article). The drug Candidates are (1) tusamitamab ravtansine, an anti-CEACAM5 antibody-drug conjugate in Phase III studies, and (2) non-alpha IL-2 in Phase II studies (combined with Innovent’s PD-1, Sintilimab). Innovent will be responsible for the clinical development of both Sanofi candidates in China but will only commercialize tusamitamab ravtansine. Sanofi is eligible for milestone payments of up to US$81 million for tusamitamab Ravtansineand, and Innovent will receive milestone payments of up to US$61 million for IL-2.

Beijing Sironax closed a $200 million Series B financing to advance its portfolio of novel therapies for age-related degenerative diseases. The company’s pipeline consists of products that address key mechanisms underlying age-related degenerative diseases – regulated cell death, neuroprotective signaling and neuroinflammation. Its lead candidate is a serine/threonine protein kinase 1 (RIPK1) inhibitor, which has entered clinical trials for COVID and an unspecified degenerative disease. The B round was led by Gaorong Capital and Yunfeng Capital. Sironax has now raised $300 million.

OriCell Therapeutics (Shanghai) has closed a $120 million Series B financing for its cell therapy and bispecific immunotherapy pipeline. The Company also plans to construct a clinical/commercial manufacturing facility. OriCell has two near-clinical CAR-T candidates, one in advanced liver cancer and the other in multiple myeloma. It is also developing a PD-L/4-1BB bispecific antibody which it developed in partnership with Antengene. OriCell’s financing was led by Qiming Venture Partners and Quan Capital and supported by other investors including C&D Emerging Capital, an existing shareholder.

Ablaze Pharma, a targeted radiation therapy company, has signed an agreement with the Wenjiang District Government of Chengdu to build a US$100 million R&D and manufacturing center in Chengdu Medical City. The source of the capital was not disclosed, although it was disclosed during the FDI Large Advanced Manufacturing Projects Conference. Ablaze owns China’s rights to five targeted radiation therapies from San Diego-based RayzeBio, whose radiopharmaceuticals deliver radioisotopes to tumors through the bloodstream. The therapies consist of a small peptide binder, a linker, and a powerful radioactive payload.

Structure Therapeutics, a San Francisco-Shanghai company, completed a $33 million raise to its $100 million Series B round announced last October (see article). Structure was previously known as ShouTi Inc. The company’s new name reflects its plan to build a portfolio of next-generation small molecule drugs based on structural design that will overcome the limitations of biologics and peptide therapies. Structure’s initial efforts target the GPCR cell surface family of drug targets. Its lead molecule, GSBR-1290, is an oral small molecule GLP-1 receptor agonist that targets type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity.

GluBio Therapeutics, a San Diego and Shanghai company, has closed a $22 million Series A+ financing to advance its portfolio of early-stage targeted protein degradation (TPD) candidates. Earlier this year, the company closed a $50 million Series A round. TPD uses bifunctional chemistry to create chimeric molecules that bind to a protein and tag it for degradation. GluBio will use the capital to bring two molecular glue degraders with best-in-class potential to the clinic for hematological malignancies. The A+ round was led by Qiming Venture Partners and included Lilly Asia Ventures and Kaitai Capital.

China’s Genuine Biotech applies for IPO on the Hong Kong Exchange. Genuine, headquartered in Pingdingshan, Henan Province, develops novel drugs for viral, oncological and cerebrovascular diseases. Its lead drug, Azvudin, a nucleoside analogue that inhibits HIV-1 RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp), has been conditionally approved in China for the treatment of HIV and COVID-19. A year ago, Genuine raised $100 million in a B round. The company can make 6.8 billion Azvudin tablets a year at half the cost of Pfizer’s Paxlovid.

Australian company Radiopharm Theranostics (OTCPK:RDPTF) (ASX:RAD) will work with Lantheus, a Boston-based diagnostics company, to develop a PD-L1 nanobody that has both diagnostic and therapeutic uses. NM-01 is produced using genetically engineered camelid-derived single-domain antibodies that can be labeled with low-dose radioisotopes as a diagnostic agent and with higher doses of radioisotopes to treat multiple tumor types. Radiopharm has the global rights to NM-01 as a therapy from UK-based NanoMab, which developed the therapy, and will have the Chinese rights to the diagnostic from Lantheus. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

Exams and Admissions

ProfoundBio, a Suzhou-Seattle-based oncology biopharmaceutical company, has been approved to begin US trials of an antibody drug candidate in patients with advanced cancer. PRO1184 consists of a folate receptor alpha (FRA)-directed antibody conjugated to an exatecan payload with a novel hydrophilic linker. The Phase 1 study will evaluate the safety, activity and pharmacokinetics of PRO1184 in patients with ovarian, endometrial, breast, non-small cell lung cancer and mesothelioma. ProfoundBio is developing novel antibody therapeutics targeting solid cancers. Profound was founded in 2021 with a capital of US$58 million by Chinese investors and the leadership of SeaGen veterans.

Zenas BioPharma has been approved to start a phase I/II clinical trial in China for the treatment of thyroid eye disease (TED) (see article). ZB001 is a mAb that targets the insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R). TED is a vision-threatening autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and fibrosis in the eye socket, a condition for which there are no approved therapies in China. TED is usually treated with high doses of steroids (which have serious side effects) or surgery. With offices in Boston and Shanghai, Zenas develops immune-based therapies for patients in the United States, China and worldwide.

Disclosure: none.

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Editor’s note: The summary points for this article were selected by Seeking Alpha editors.

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