China's Akeso Bets On IO Antibody Combo With First US IND
Emerging Company Profile: Akeso's lead compound is the bispecific antibody AK104, which targets the checkpoints PD-1 and CTLA-4. It will be advanced globally with a first indication in gastric and gastroesophageal junction cancers. This is the first in a series of China-based emerging company profiles.
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2019 will be remembered as a banner year for international drug makers as many grew at phenomenal rates in China, despite expansion of the “4+7” centralized procurement scheme and steep price cuts in exchange for reimbursement. As the government continues to emphasize affordability for cancer drugs and major anti-infectives, competition is heating up quickly and immune-oncology alone has seen six PD-1s elbowing each other for market share.
Beijing-based BeiGene is set to score two big wins in a row as it pursues innovation. After securing US approval for its BTK inhibitor zanubrutinib for mantle cell lymphoma, its PD-1 inhibitor has sailed through a technical review in China.
Private Company Edition: VC deals are surging this year for cell and gene therapy firms, according to ARM’s third quarter report. Also, Vivo Capital and the CF Foundation plan to invest nearly $2bn in health care and life science opportunities, and Akeso completes $150m series D.