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Emerging Company Profile

Through LianBio, Perceptive forms bridge for Western pipeline into Asia

Perceptive-founded start-up build on in-licensing model for Asian markets

Incubated and seeded by Perceptive, LianBio kicks off with Asian rights to three assets and options to BridgeBio’s pipeline.

Aug 11, 2020 | 1:16 PM GMT

Led by Bing Li and Debra Yu, Perceptive’s LianBio has launched with the goal of speeding the entrance of new medicines into Asian markets, leading with a registration-ready cardiomyopathy candidate from MyoKardia and a Phase III cancer therapy from BridgeBio affiliate QED.

Perceptive Advisors’ Adam Stone told BioCentury that the time was right to launch the Shanghai and Princeton-based start-up given recent regulatory and IP reforms enacted by the Chinese government, such as strengthening of IP protection and clarification of priority review and conditional approval pathways, that have incentivized biopharma business development (see “Guidelines for Conditional Approval, Compassionate Use”; “ Priority Review Pathway”).

“This was a market that, fancying ourselves as global life sciences investors, we just could no longer afford to ignore,” said Stone, who is the firm’s chief investment officer.

Zai Lab Ltd. (NASDAQ:ZLAB), Everest Medicines Ltd. and Canbridge Life Sciences Ltd. have similar business models. Most of Zai’s products are for cancer; Everest, which was incubated by C-Bridge Capital, has a pipeline spanning a range of disease areas; and Canbridge focuses on targeted cancer therapies and orphan disease programs (see “Zai: Capitalizing on China”; “Incubating in China”;  “Canbridge Can-can”). 

Stone said Perceptive was in a unique position to “strategically pick and choose what the best assets are to bring into a company like Lian.”

“We are in a position where we have the relationships with these companies. We can develop trust very quickly and thought that we can do a lot of great deals” and bring their programs into China, he said.

Stone said that through its investment activities, the firm has built relationships and knowledge regarding the competitive landscape of assets in development for every therapeutic category.

Perceptive, which founded, seeded and incubated LianBio, is starting the company off with an undisclosed amount of funding and exclusive rights in China and other undisclosed major Asian markets outside of Japan to three programs from two companies the VC has invested in: MyoKardia Inc. (NASDAQ:MYOK) and BridgeBio Pharma Inc. (NASDAQ:BBIO). BridgeBio forms decentralized subsidiaries that hold single assets, but share resources across the programs (see “Coming Out Party”). 

LianBio also has options to the remainder of BridgeBio’s existing pipeline and products added to it over the next four years. Detailed financial terms for the four deals are undisclosed. 

CEO Bing Li said LianBio’s U.S. operations would focus on BD, with product development based primarily in China. His previous roles include CEO of China Biologic Products Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:CBPO), chairman of Ambrx Inc. and managing director and head of overseas healthcare PE investment at Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co. Ltd. (Shanghai:600196; HKEX:2196).

The start-up’s lead product is mavacamten, which MyoKardia said in May met all primary and secondary endpoints in a Phase III study to treat obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The California company plans to submit an NDA to FDA for the first-in-class cardiac myosin inhibitor in 1Q21 (see “Data Validate MyoKardia’s Mavacamten”).

President and CBO Debra Yu told BioCentury that LianBio hopes to gain an accelerated timeline for regulatory review of mavacamten. She declined to disclosed specifics, citing pending discussions with China’s Center for Drug Evaluation.

Yu has served as managing director and head of cross-border healthcare investment banking for China Renaissance, managing director at Labrador Advisors and VP of strategy at WuXi AppTec Co. Ltd. (Shanghai:603259; HKEX:2359).

LianBio’s next product is infigratinib from BridgeBio affiliate QED Therapeutics Inc, which has has rights to the FGFR inhibitor from Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS; SIX:NOVN); it is testing the therapy in the global Phase III PROOF study to treat first-line cholangiocarcinoma. LianBio is enrolling patients in China for PROOF and plans to conduct its own Phase IIa study of the therapy to treat gastric cancers and other hard-to-treat tumors (see “BridgeBio Gets Novartis FGFR Kinase Inhibitor”).

The newco’s third asset is solid tumor candidate BBP-398. Navire Pharma Inc., another BridgeBio company, is focusing development of the SHP-2 inhibitor on drug-resistant tumors and other hard-to-treat cancers. Yu said Navire has already submitted its IND for the SHP-2 inhibitor and that LianBio plans to submit an IND for a Phase Ib trial in early 2021.

Stone said LianBio isn’t tied to oncology or cardiorenal indications and plans to evaluate products for pipeline growth based on their merits and opportunities for the indications in China. He added that the assets need not be first-in-class, noting that sometimes those compounds represent unproven risk. 

According to BioCentury’s BCIQ database, Cytokinetics Inc. (NASDAQ:CYTK) is the only other company with a cardiac myosin inhibitor in development for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The company’s CK-274 is in Phase II testing for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Cytokinetics contributed to the IP that led to mavacamten.

Incyte Corp. (NASDAQ:INCY) markets FGFR inhibitor Pemazyre pemigatinib for cholangiocarcinoma. Innovent Biologics Inc. (HKSE:1801) has rights to the drug, which is in Phase II for other cancer indications, in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

At least four other SHP-2 inhibitors are in Phase I or I/II studies for solid tumor indications: JAB-3068 and JAB-3312 from Beijing Jacobio Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.; RMC-4630 from Sanofi (Euronext:SAN; NASDAQ:SNY) and Revolution Medicines Inc. (NASDAQ:RVMD); and TNO155 from Novartis.

COMPANY PROFILE
LianBio
Shanghai, China, and Princeton, N.J.
Technology: In-licensed assets for development, commercialization in Asia
Origin of technology: MyoKardia Inc., BridgeBio Pharma Inc.
Disease focus: Cardiovascular; renal; cancer
Clinical status: Phase III
Founded: 2020 by Perceptive Advisors
University collaborators: N/A
Corporate partners: MyoKardia, BridgeBio
Number of employees: 30-50
Funds raised: Undisclosed
Investors: Perceptive Advisors
CEO: Bing Li
Patents: Undisclosed

TARGETS
FGFR – Fibroblast growth factor receptor
SHP-2 (SHPTP2; PTPN11) – Src homology protein tyrosine phosphatase 2

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