China’s Stemirna to raise $50m for clinical trials of COVID vaccine pipeline

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Stemirna Therapeutics, a Chinese biotech startup specialized in RNA technology-based drug development, has entered into a staged investment agreement with Shanghai-listed domestic pharma Tibet Rhodiola Pharmaceutical that could bring the startup capital injections of up to 351 million yuan ($50 million).

According to a filing with the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SEE) on June 16, Tibet Rhodiola Pharmaceutical agreed to pay up the amount in a phased investment, based on Stemirna’s progress in developing mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine candidates, tuberculosis vaccines, and influenza vaccines.

As part of the strategic partnership, the investor will obtain exclusive global licenses to develop, register, produce, and commercialize the aforementioned products once they are made ready for commercialization.

Founded in May 2016, Stemirna is primarily engaged in the research and development of mRNA cancer individualized vaccines and miRNA-targeted cancer stem cells.

Shanghai-based Stemirna launched a project this January to develop mRNA-based vaccine candidates for the treatment of the coronavirus in cooperation with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Shanghai East Hospital of Tongji University. It has completed the pharmacodynamics study of all vaccine candidates and is expected to soon carry out their clinical trials.

Earlier this year, the company already collected 30 million yuan ($4 million) in a Series A+ round to finance these clinical trials. It roped in investors including Chinese drug maker Shanghai Junshi Biosciences, which picked up a 2.86 per cent stake in Stemirna after investing 10 million yuan ($1 billion) in the deal.

The startup has built an mRNA therapeutic industrial chain consisted of an mRNA drug platform, a GMP production centre of nearly 400 square metres (4306 square feet), and an mRNA vaccine production line. It has a medical R&D team of 50 people.

The company recorded a revenue of 566,037.6 yuan ($79,974) and a net loss of 29 million yuan ($4 million) in 2019, shows the filing.

Stemirna raised nearly 100 million yuan ($14 million) in a Series A round in August 2019. The round was backed by China’s Zhangjiang Torch Venture Capital, Chinese healthcare fund Longmen Capital, and Beijing-based Jiuyo Capital, which focuses on advanced technologies and healthcare, among others.

Chinese healthcare venture capital firm Lapam Capital, which invested in Stemirna’s angel round in 2017, re-upped investment in the Series A round.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.