Former Pfizer Scientist-Led Startup Zai Lab Taps Banks for $150M IPO


8/11/2017 7:20:21 AM

Former Pfizer Scientist-Led Startup Zai Lab Taps Banks for $150M IPO August 11, 2017
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Zai Lab Ltd., headquartered in Beijing, China, is reportedly in discussions with banks to launch a U.S. initial public offering (IPO). The company, founded by former Pfizer (PFE) senior scientist Samantha Du, focuses on immuno-oncology.

According to inside sources reported by Bloomberg Technology, Zai Lab is working with Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase Co. raised approximately $150 million in an IPO, targeting a market cap of around $1 billion.

The company has an impressive pipeline, a polyadenosine diphosphate [ADP]-ribose polymerase (PARP)-1 and -2 inhibitor being evaluated in several cancers, including ovarian and breast; ZL-2401 (Omadacycline), an oral and intravenous aminomethylcycline antibiotic, a new class of tetracycline derivatives; ZL-2301 (Brivanib), a dual inhibitor of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGF) receptors, in late-stage trials for several different cancers; ZL-3101 (FUGAN), a botanical topical product for the treatment of eczema and psoriasis; ZL-2302, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor being evaluated for brain cancers; and ZL-1101, a humanized anti-OX40 antagonist being evaluated in preclinical studies for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

Bloomberg Technology notes that “Zai Lab has established its own early-stage drug discovery team focused on immuno-oncology. The company has also licensed experimental medicines from big pharmaceutical companies to populate its immediate pipeline, including a potential treatment for lung cancer from France’s Sanofi (SNY) and a liver drug candidate from Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY).”

In June, Zai Lab indicated it had raised $30 million in a Series C financing, which followed a $100-million Series B in January. Investors included Advantech Capital and OrbiMed Asia. Since the lab started in 2014, it has brought in other investors such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, Sequoia Capital China and Qiming Ventures.

Zai Lab appears to be an example of a trend in China, of entrepreneurs from the U.S. or elsewhere returning to China. They are dubbed “Hai gui” or “sea turtles.” This goes hand-in-hand with China’s efforts to accelerate the regulatory process for new drugs. China is the world’s second-largest drug market. The regulatory reforms have resulted in domestic drugmakers and multinational pharma companies receiving fast-track approvals, which makes startups look even more positive.   Related Jobs     QA Associate/Specialist – Regeneron   Scientist – Flow Cytometry – Apex Life Sciences   MedImmune Informatics Analyst – MedImmune   Principal Biostatistician – MacroGenics   Senior Scientist – AstraZeneca   Sr. Automation Engineer – Regeneron   View More Jobs

Bloomberg records indicates that first-time share sales from Chinese healthcare companies have raised $6.2 billion in the last 12 months. For example, BeiGene Ltd., another Chinese immuno-oncology company, has tripled in value since it started trading in the U.S. last year. Yesterday it announced plans to raise $125 million in a follow-on share sale. And another company, BGI Genomics Co., has grown sevenfold since its Shenzhen launch in July.

Over the last 18 months, the company has announced a number of collaborations, including its deals with Sanofi and Bristol-Myers. In March 2016, it announced a strategic partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim for the German company to provide process optimization and manufacturing services for Zai Lab’s new monoclonal antibody. In September 2016, Zai Lab inked a deal with Tesaro (TSRO) to develop and commercialize niaraparib in China as well as to advance two immuno-oncology programs outside of China.

In October 2016, Zai Lab and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) signed a deal to develop and commercialize one Phase II clinical and one preclinical anti-inflammatory assets. In March 2017, Zai and GE Healthcare closed a strategic partnership agreement to build Zai Lab – GE Biotherapeutics Development Manufacturing/Processing Demonstration Site in Suzhou Biobay, Jiangsu Province.

And most recently, in April 2017, Zai entered into a collaboration with Paratek Pharmaceuticals (PRTK) to develop and commercialize omadacycline for patients in China.

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