Adagene Raises USD 69 Million in General Atlantic-Led Series D
COVID-19 and China
Image credit: Adagene

Adagene (天演药业) is an immunotherapy research and pharmaceutical company founded in 2012. With six pipelines ongoing, the biopharma company has brought two into a clinical trial phase. The new financing means the firm has an accumulated investment of USD 150 million.

General Atlantic has joined the likes of Sequoia China and Fidelity Investment in Adagene’s shareholder league. The new round will be used for accelerating clinical phase projects and expanding new pipelines, according to Adagene.

Immunotherapy is a new biopharma area where most biopharma startups are clustered. Compared with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy are considered the least harmful to human body at this time – they only target the cancer cells in the patient’s body. Reliant on human gene sequencing projects, cancer immunotherapy has become possible and is attracting drug developers and investors.

In 2019, the investment inflow reached a peak of CNY 28.1 billion (USD 4.0 billion). Immunotherapy is an industry with high barrier to entry. Most founders of startups in this sector have more than a decade of biopharma R&D and management experience.

The same applies to the founder of Adagene. Dr. Perry Luo (罗培志) is an expert in antibody R&D and drug management with over 20 years of experience. He co-founded the pharma company Abmaxis in 2000, which specialized in the antibody field and was later acquired by Merck at USD 80 million in 2006. After the deal, Dr. Luo served as Director of Biologics Technology at Merck prior to founding Adagene.

EqualOcean has covered other immunotherapy startups in China, like I-Mab, YuceBio, Jacobio and so on. However, the US is the most favored land for immunotherapy companies if one counts active immunotherapy projects. In 2019, 1,837 active immune-oncology (IO) agents were under development by US companies while 614 active agents were being developed in China – the US and China total accounted for 63% of the total IO agent pipelines in the world.

In the above top 10 countries, 9 out of 10 are developed countries, where the healthcare service level also ranks top in the world. The fight against cancer is a global fight and these front-end pilots in immunotherapy are a special weapon in the battle against the ‘king of diseases,’ which takes away millions of lives each year, affecting every part of the globe.

Editor: Luke Sheehan
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