China has a thriving biotech venture capital scene, with firms bagging impressive cash in the last few years. Check out our pick of five private healthcare biotech companies that have raised major rounds in China.
China’s biotech industry has undergone a momentous shift in recent decades, evolving from a generics-focused space to a thriving biotech hub. The Chinese healthcare market is predicted to expand from around $900 billion (6 trillion RMB) in 2019 to $2.3 trillion (16 trillion RMB) in 2030, and its size is second only to that of the U.S. healthcare market.
Some of the best known biotech companies in China are listed players including BeiGene and Innovent Biologics. The nation is also host to a fleet of privately-owned biotech firms that have raked in huge amounts in venture capital financing in the last couple of years.
We’ve prepared a list of five of the top private healthcare-focused biotech companies in China, judging from the size of the venture rounds they raised in addition to the innovative research they are carrying out.
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Abogen Biosciences Co., Ltd.
Abogen Biosciences makes it on this list by virtue of an impressive $700 million Series C round that it bagged in August 2021 — one of the biggest-ever private biotech funding rounds. This was swiftly followed by another $300 million investment round in November 2021.
Abogen’s mission is to develop therapies derived from messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. These include immunotherapies for cancer, protein replacement therapies and its lead candidate: a vaccine against COVID-19. Abogen’s Covid vaccine is currently in phase 3 testing, and is on track to becoming China’s first approved mRNA vaccine.
Headquarters: Beijing, China, and San Francisco and Boston, U.S.
Avistone Pharmaceuticals turned heads in December 2021 with a Series A round worth more than $200 million. The oncology firm used the proceeds to fund the takeover of another cancer-focused player called Pearl Biotechnology.
Avistone is developing a pipeline of small molecule drugs for lung cancer, with its lead candidate in late-stage clinical trials for the treatment of specific, genetically-defined populations of patients with non-small cell lung cancer and glioblastoma. The drug blocks a protein called c-Met, whose dysregulation is linked to many types of solid tumors; other drugs blocking this target include the FDA-approved crizotinib and cabozantinib.
DAC Biotech Co., Ltd
Also known as Duoxi Bio, DAC Biotech is one of relatively few biotech companies in China developing proprietary antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), a hot class of drugs in the oncology arena.
The founders had years of solid research experience in the field of ADCs, including in the U.S. and in China. DAC Biotech’s lead candidate is in phase 2 clinical testing for the treatment of solid tumors including gastric cancer. The firm is bankrolling its drug development with a $155 million Series C round, which it closed in May 2021.
Innogen Pharmaceutical Technology Co., Ltd.
Innogen, also known as Yinnuo Pharmaceutical Technology, is developing treatments for metabolic disorders such as diabetes. In late 2021, the firm raised $120 million in venture financing to advance its fusion protein drug supraglutide to phase 3 testing, in addition to pushing forward the rest of its pipeline.
Supraglutide is designed to activate glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). This target promotes the secretion of insulin, a hormone vital for stopping blood sugar levels from getting too high. Insulin is either scarce or doesn’t work well in patients with type 2 diabetes.
While there are a number of GLP-1 agonists on the market, such as Trulicity and Ozempic, supraglutide is designed to last longer in the body than some of its competitors.
Stemirna Therapeutics Co., Ltd.
Stemirna Therapeutics made headlines in June 2021 with a Series B round worth almost $200 million. The company is using the proceeds to finance the late-stage clinical testing and manufacturing of its COVID-19 vaccine.
Like Abogen, Stemirna’s Covid vaccine is made from mRNA. According to the firm, its candidate is designed to be more effective than first-generation vaccines against viral strains circulating in South Africa, Brazil and India.
In addition to Covid vaccines, Stemirna is developing preclinical-stage vaccines against tuberculosis and influenza. Its pipeline also includes therapeutic vaccines to arm the immune system against cancer.
Thanks to feedback from Fiona Gao, founding partner of Chinsiders.
June 30, 2022: updated to clarify the background of DAC Biotech’s founders.