ASLAN raises $23M in pre-IPO round from new, existing investors

Singapore-based ASLAN Pharmaceuticals has raised $23 million from existing and new investors as it gears up for an expected initial public offering, with a Phase II underway for pan-HER inhibitor varlitinib (ASLAN001) and more than $100 million to date in investment to fund its pipeline.

In the latest round, Taiwan institutional funds, TopTaiwan, KGI VC and Ta Ya Ventures joined in the funding--possibly signaling a listing in Taipei. On the international side, the round was joined by Milestone Capital, Daiwa Taiwan-Japan Biotech Fund and China Galaxy.

In June, ASLAN001 won a U.S. FDA orphan designation for a second indication in gastric cancer, which followed the first orphan designation in August of last year for a treatment for cholangiocarcinoma, a rare and aggressive form of bile duct cancer.

The company has geared up on several fronts, opening an office in Shanghai, working with Taiwan's ACT Genomics and inking a pact with South Korea's Hyundai Pharmaceutical for the first co-development agreement on ASLAN001.

“We are well-funded to accelerate the progress we are making in developing our portfolio of drugs, and this financing round bolsters our strong financial position as we advance ASLAN as a leading biotech company in Taiwan and the region,” Carl Firth, CEO of ASLAN, said in a statement.

In development, ASLAN reported positive Phase I results with gastric cancer candidate ASLAN002, licensed from Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY), with plans to head to Phase II.

In addition, the company has preclinical candidate ASLAN003, a DHODH inhibitor, licensed from Almirall, currently in Phase I trials for rheumatoid arthritis, and ASLAN004, a fully human monoclonal antibody against interleukin-13 receptor α1, that has been shown to block binding and signal transduction of both IL4 and IL13, which was licensed from CSL.

Sources said the company hopes to list as early as this year in either Asia or the U.S.

Existing investors include Temasek-owned Accuro, Tianda Pharmaceuticals and Haitong International as well as Morningside, Bioveda Capital, Cenova Ventures, Sagamore Bioventures and XinChen Ventures.

In early December of last year, ASLAN announced it raised $34 million in Series C cash from new and existing investors. It then obtained an additional $9 million later in the month and closed the series at $43 million. 

- here's the release (PDF)

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