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.