Deals and Financings
GuaHao.com, a Hangzhou online healthcare portal, completed a $394 million financing round, led by Hillhouse Capital and Goldman Sachs (see story). GuaHao helps patients make appointments and payments, along with other healthcare services. The company will change its name to WeDoctor, adopting a name similar to WeChat, the Tencent messaging app. Tencent also participated in the funding. According to media reports, GuaHao/WeDoctor will spend $300 million to build an internet diagnosis and treatment platform, and another $150 million to build five regional surgery centers.
Genovate Biotechnology (TWO: 4130), a Taiwanese drug company, has begun construction of a China insulin manufacturing facility in Changzhou Industrial Park, whose total investment may reach $1 billion (see story). The company hopes to become China's largest supplier of insulin, supplanting the three international pharmas that currently control the market. Phase 1 of the project, which got underway this week, is a relatively modest $55 million facility that will house a one-ton fermentation production line, and is expected to be completed in 2018.
CASI Pharma (NSDQ: CASI), a US-China biopharma, raised $25 million in a secondary offering, which it will use to fund clinical trials (see story). CASI is currently conducting four Phase II trials of ENMD-2076, an oral Aurora A/angiogenic kinase inhibitor, in the US and China. Headquartered in Maryland, CASI has R&D operations in Beijing. The financing was led by a China investment fund manager affiliated with the same management team as CASI's largest shareholder, IDG-Accel China Growth Fund III, L.P.
Ativa Medical of Minneapolis, a medical diagnostic device company, completed a $15 million B round, much of it from China investors (see story). The company is developing the Ativa micro lab device, which miniaturizes larger, more expensive central lab blood test devices into a countertop system for use in a clinic. Results are available in five minutes. The financing was led by Ping An Ventures, the VC arm of the large China insurance company, and joined by Hermed Capital, a partnership between Fosun Pharma (SHA: 600196; HK: 2196) and SK Group of Korea; and DiAn Diagnostics (SHZ: 300244), an operator of China central labs.
Zai Lab, a two-year old Shanghai biotech, in-licensed global rights from UCB (Euronext: UCB), the Belgium multinational, to a first-in-class monoclonal antibody aimed at treating autoimmune and other inflammatory diseases (see story). According to Zai, the candidate is ready for IND enabling studies and will probably start a clinical Phase I trial in 2016. The initial indications appear to be graft-versus-host disease and inflammatory bowel disease. So far, Zai has in-licensed four molecules, all of them close to clinical stage.
Lee's Pharm (HK: 0950) of Hong Kong in-licensed greater China rights (plus Thailand) to tecarfarin, a novel anticoagulant being developed by Armetheon, a Milpitas, CA company (see story). Tecarfarin, a potential alternative to the blood thinner warfarin, is starting a large 3,000 patient US Phase III trial. To gain China rights, Lee's made an upfront payment and invested in Armetheon, plus it will pay regulatory and sales milestones along with a royalty on revenues. Further details of the agreement were not disclosed.
BGI, China's largest genomics sequencing company, signed an agreement with Huawei Technology, a Shenzhen networking and telecom equipment maker, to develop big data storage systems for genomic research (see story). The companies set a goal of achieving at least a 30% improvement in the overall efficiency of genome sequencing research tasks. BGI and Huawei will work together to design the big data storage systems to minimize duplicating each other's work. In 2014, Huawei and Imperial College London set up a big data collaboration with a focus on healthcare.
Trials and Approvals
RuiYi, Inc., a San Diego-Shanghai biotech, has begun a Phase I trial of Gerilimzumab, its novel anti-IL-6 cytokine mAb, as a treatment for autoimmune disorders, especially rheumatoid arthritis (see story). According to RuiYi, the preclinical tests of the drug showed the highest combined subcutaneous bioavailability, potency and blood half-life of any cytokine biologic RA treatment. RuiYi believes a once-monthly regimen is possible. RuiYi in-licensed worldwide rights to Gerilimzumab from ArGEN-X (Euronext Brussels: ARGX) of Belgium in 2012 and then partnered with Genor BioPharma of Shanghai, which is developing the drug for China.
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