China-based VC firm WuXi Healthcare makes coast-to-coast U.S. investments

Shanghai-based WuXi Healthcare Ventures joined investments in two U.S.-based biotechs, one in San Francisco and the other in Cambridge, focused on gene work and that combined raised $101 million.

The venture capital firm put an unspecified amount of cash in San Francisco-based Twist Bioscience, which is developing an automated silicon platform to make synthetic genes, and Cambridge, MA-based Syros Pharmaceuticals which is working with its own technology to develop gene therapies to treat cancer.

"We are very pleased to support Syros's development of new medicines based on the cutting-edge science of gene control," Edward Hu, a founding partner of WuXi Healthcare Ventures, said in a press release. "This financing will fund clinical testing of Syros's lead compound, which, if successful, will serve to validate its novel gene control therapeutics platform."

The overall financing saw Twist raise $61 million and Syros $40 million, according to the release. The venture arm had in May 2014 invested an unspecified amount in Twist in Series B funding.

WuXi Healthcare Ventures founding partner Ge Li

"We are excited about the potential of Twist Bioscience's automated platform to significantly lower the cost of DNA synthesis and thereby greatly expand the potential of genetic research," Ge Li, also a founding partner of WuXi Healthcare Ventures, said in the release.

The investments come a month after the venture capital arm of WuXi PharmaTech raised $290 million in cash dedicated to "find in U.S. build in China" plans, beating a target of $200 million and bringing total funds to more than $350 million.

It also follows a December closure on a $3.3 billion management-led buyout that saw WuXi PharmaTech exit a New York Stock Exchange listing.

Among other investments by the venture arm are in companies such Juno Therapeutics ($JUNO), Agios Pharmaceuticals ($AGIO), Foundation Medicine ($FMI), Callidus Biopharma, Novira Therapeutics, Hua Medicine, and Adagene, according to a company press release in December.

- here's the latest release