Innovent Lands $305 million investment by Sanofi. He will work with two candidates in China

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Offers and Financing

Suzhou Innovent Biologics (HK: 01801) will develop two Sanofi cancer candidates for use in China with Sanofi investing $305 million in Innovent stock in a complex deal and the money going both ways (see story). Drug candidates are (1) tusamitamab ravtansine, an anti-CEACAM5 antibody-drug conjugate in Phase III trials, and (2) non-alpha IL-2 in Phase II trials (in combination 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 will be eligible for $81 million in milestones on tusamitamab ravtansine and, and Innovent will receive up to $61 million in IL-2 milestones.

Beijing Sironax has closed a $200 million Series B financing to advance its portfolio of novel treatments 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 pathways and neuroinflammation. The lead candidate is a serine/threonine-protein kinase 1 (RIPK1) inhibitor that has begun clinical trials for COVID and an unspecified degenerative disease. Round B was led by Gaorong Capital and Yunfeng Capital. Sironax has now raised $300 million.

OriCell Therapeutics (Shanghai) closed a $120 million Series B financing for cell therapy and bispecific immunotherapy. The company also plans to build a clinical/commercial manufacturing facility. OriCell has two CAR-T candidates nearing the clinical stage, one for advanced liver cancer and the other for multiple myeloma. He is also developing a PD-L/4-1BB bispecific antibody that he partnered with Antengene. OriCell’s funding was led by Qiming Venture Partners and Quan Capital and was joined 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 $100 million R&D and manufacturing center in Chengdu Medical City. The source of the capital was not disclosed, although it was announced during the Foreign Direct Investment Major Advanced Manufacturing Projects Conference. Ablaze has rights in China to five targeted radiation therapies from San Diego’s RayzeBio, whose radiopharmaceuticals deliver radioisotopes to tumors through the bloodstream. The therapies consist of a small peptide linker, a linker, and a powerful radioactive payload.

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

GluBio Therapeutics, a San Diego-Shanghai company, has completed a $22 million Series A+ financing to advance its early-stage portfolio of 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 mark it for degradation. GluBio will use the capital to move two best-in-class molecular glue degraders into the clinic for hematologic malignancies. The A+ round was led by Qiming Venture Partners and included Lilly Asia Ventures and Kaitai Capital.

China’s Genuine Biotech filed for IPO on Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Genuine, based in Pingdingshan, Henan Province, develops new drugs for viral, oncological and cerebrovascular diseases. Its lead drug, azvudine, a nucleoside analog 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 produce 6.8 billion azvudine tablets a year at half the cost of Pfizer’s Paxlovid.

Australia’s Radiopharm Theranostics (OTCPK:RDPTF) (ASX: RAD) will partner with Lantheus, a Boston-based diagnostics company, to develop a PD-L1 nanoparticle that is both diagnostic and therapeutic. NM-01 is made using genetically engineered camel-derived single-domain antibodies that can be labeled with low-dose radioisotopes as a diagnostic and with higher doses of radioisotopes to treat multiple tumor types. Radiopharm has global rights to NM-01 as a therapy from the UK’s NanoMab, which developed the therapy, and will have China rights to the diagnostic from Lantheus. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Testing and Approval

ProfoundBio, a Suzhou-Seattle oncology biopharmaceutical company, has been approved to begin US trials of an antibody drug candidate in advanced cancer patients. PRO1184 consists of a folate receptor alpha (FRA)-directed antibody conjugated to a hexatecane payload with a novel hydrophilic linker. The Phase 1 trial 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 therapeutic antibodies targeting solid tumors. In 2021, Profound was founded with $58 million in capital from Chinese investors and leadership from SeaGen veterans.

Zenas BioPharma has been approved to initiate a China Phase I/II clinical trial for the treatment of thyroid eye disease (TED) (see story). 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 with no approved treatments in China. TED is usually treated with high doses of steroids (which are associated with serious side effects) or surgery. With operations in Boston and Shanghai, Zenas develops immune-based therapies for patients in the US, China and worldwide.

Disclosure: none.

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Editor’s Note: The bullet points for this article were selected by the editors of Seeking Alpha.

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