Chinese clinical-stage, oncology-focused biotech player IASO Biotherapeutics on Monday announced the completion of its $60-million Series B round of financing led by Hillhouse’s early-stage venture capital fund GL Ventures.
Founded in March 2017, IASO BIO focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of cell therapies in the oncology field. The company is developing over 10 pipeline products that are specialised in autologous and universal CAR-T products for haematological tumours, which are cancers originating in blood-forming tissue, such as leukaemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma.
Additional development efforts include unique TCR-like CAR-T cell therapy products for solid tumour indications, such as viral infection-related gastric cancer and nasopharyngeal carcinoma.
IASO BIO owns a proprietary phage display library that supports the demand for fully human antibodies required for CAR-T and lays the foundation for the development of antibody-drug pipelines. Its in-house plasmid, lentivirus and CAR-T production technology platforms can meet the requirements of the investigational new drug (IND) submissions and clinical research for multiple products, according to the statement.
In September 2019, the company received the approval from the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA), which regulates drugs and medical devices in China, of a phase Ib/II IND application for CT103A, an anti-BCMA CAR-T co-developed with Hong Kong-listed biopharma firm Innovent Biologics for the treatment of relapsed refractory multiple myeloma.
The new funding will be used to expand the company’s product pipeline, and to promote the progress of current projects, including regulatory applications and clinical trials in China and the US.
Hillhouse Capital co-CIO Michael Yi said, in a statement, “IASO BIO boasts a unique development platform for fully human antibody, a solid CMC process for plasmid viruses and cell products, efficient corporate governance and innovative products with excellent clinical data.”
The investment comes roughly one month after Asia-focused private equity major Hillhouse Capital launched the dual-currency venture capital unit, GL Ventures. The investment vehicle primarily backs companies in four areas: biopharmaceutical and medical apparatus, software services and technological innovation, consumer-oriented internet and technologies, as well as emerging consumer brands and services.
Its portfolio companies include Innovent Biologics, remote conferencing service Zoom, Beijing-based biopharma firm BeiGene, Chinese biotech firm Junshi Biosciences, Nasdaq-listed I-Mab Biopharma, Chinese cosmetics brand Perfect Diary, as well as online coding education platforms Hetao101 and Codemao, among others.