Temasek-backed Transcenta Gets USD 100 million to Develop 'Better Antibodies'
COVID-19 and China
China's biotech scene has long been luring investors thanks to policy-driven dynamics. Image: Credit to Transcenta

Transcenta Holding (创胜集团) a Shanghai-based biopharmaceutical firm that operates in the research, development, regulatory affairs and manufacturing of biologics, carried out its Series B funding round, worth over USD 100 million, marking yet another injection into China’s oncology biotech sector.

While this round was led by a Shenzhen-based private equity firm, Fortune Capital (达晨创投), the company's previous backers include Lily Asia Ventures, Temasek, Sequoia Capital China and Hillhouse Capital – the largest life sciences bettors in Asia.

The clinical-stage firm shows that it has nine drugs in its pipeline for oncology, bone disorders and nephrology. The company is the out-licenser to Eli Lily (LLY: NYSE) of an antagonist for osteoporosis in Phase II that has been developed for the Greater China Region. Another Phase II stage drug is an antagonist for PD-L1 in cancer treatment that has been developed for global markets, mainly North America and Greater China. The California-based Biotech firm Inhibrx is also an in-licenser for Transcenta's IgG1 antibody. The drug was cleared by the National Medical Product Administration of China (NMPA) for clinical testing.

Transcenta was established in January 2019 from the merger of two biotech companies: MabSpace Biosciences and HJB. The two former founders, Xueming Qian and Jonathan Zhao are the new firm's co-founders; both worked for Amgen (AMGN: NASDAQ) prior to founding their own company.

Like I-Mab Biopharma (IMAB: NASDAQ), which will be publicly traded on January 16 in the US, China's oncology biotech developers are in proliferation, yet Transcenta claims to differentiate itself with its "globally unique" pH-dependent PD-L1 antibody – an antibody that can remain in the tumor of the patient for a longer time, which means the drug can show its efficacy for a longer time

The firm hopes to launch its products by 2022-2023, the interview with Dr. Qian by Pharma Boardroom revealed.

So far no Chinese company has been able to approve its PD-1/PD-L1 monoclonal antibodies in the Chinese market, yet the competition is fierce and the large drug-makers, including Jiangsu Hengrui (SH: 600276) and Beigene (BGN: NASDAQ, have already initiated numerous pipelines in Phase III. The Chinese market conditions are expected to change entirely after the ‘Made in China’ drive leads to approval for more drugs in China. 

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