FiercePharmaAsia—Legend's U.S. IPO; U.S. reliance on China drugs; Harbour-Mount Sinai team-up

China's Genscript Biotech is planning to spin off its cell therapy unit and Johnson & Johnson CAR-T partner Legend Biotech for a U.S. IPO. The FDA is not sure exactly to what extent the U.S. is dependent on China for drugs and APIs. China's Harbour BioMed has raised $75 million in its latest round of financing shortly after penning an R&D deal with Mount Sinai that covers the novel coronavirus. And more.

1. J&J partner Legend plans IPO to fund CAR-T pipeline

Johnson & Johnson’s CAR-T partner Legend Biotech is gunning for a U.S. IPO, as the Chinese company’s parent, CDMO Genscript Biotech, expects a loss in 2019 due to rising R&D expenses. The centerpiece of the J&J deal, anti-BCMA CAR-T JNJ-4528, recently showed a 69% complete response rate in a phase 1b trial of multiple myeloma patients who had received a median of five prior treatments.

2. How much does U.S. rely on China for drugs? FDA simply doesn't know

The U.S. is reportedly looking for ways to reduce its reliance on APIs and drugs from China amid the coronavirus outbreak. But how dependent is it? According to Janet Woodcock, the FDA’s director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, the agency doesn’t know how much API Chinese facilities are producing for the U.S., nor does it know the resilience of the U.S. drug manufacturing base.

3. Harbour BioMed reels in $75M as proprietary pipeline hits clinic

Mount Sinai, Harbour BioMed teams up to develop antibodies for cancer, COVID-19 (release)

China’s immunology and immuno-oncology specialist Harbour BioMed has raised $75 million in its recent financing round to help advance its pipeline, spearheaded by an anti-FcRn antibody and a TNF-alpha inhibitor. The raise came shortly after the firm formed a multiyear R&D collaboration. The two will also work on antibodies against the new coronavirus, either as treatments or preventative measures.

4. Takeda's Ninlaro swings and misses in newly diagnosed myeloma

Ninlaro, used in tandem with Celgene’s Revlimid and steroid dexamethasone, didn’t significantly extend the time to disease progression in a study of previously untreated multiple myeloma patients who are ineligible for stem cell transplant. The triplet kept cancer at bay for a median 35.3 months, versus 21.8 months for the Revlimid-dexamethasone regimen.

5. GlaxoSmithKline hiving off Canada plant with 400 workers to Taiwan CDMO 

GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to sell a pharmaceutical and consumer products plant to Taiwan-based CDMO Bora Pharmaceuticals. The 400 plant employees are being offered the opportunity to transition to Bora, which will continue to make more than 50 GSK products for at least five years. This marks the first North American plant for Bora.

6. Atomwise, Bridge Biotherapeutics pen $1B deal for AI-devised molecules

Atomwise is contributing its artificial intelligence drug discovery know-how to a potentially $1 billion collaboration with South Korean biotech Bridge Biotherapeutics. The partnership will develop up to 13 small-molecule programs in inflammation.

7. New CEO takes over as Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies expands 

Martin Meeson, currently president and chief operating officer of Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies in the U.S., will become CEO of the Japanese CDMO April 1, taking over from Steve Bagshaw, who will move to non-executive chairman. The transition comes as the firm is pouring $120 million into gene therapy manufacturing.

8. Shionogi boosts Tetra Alzheimer's deal, nabs buyout option

Back in 2018, Shionogi teamed up with Tetra Therapeutics to advance the latter’s PDE4-targeting drug in Alzheimer’s disease. Now, the Japanese firm is doubling down by increasing its equity investment in the firm up to 50% with a buyout option.

9. New coronavirus maps offer insights for detection and treatment

The novel coronavirus invades cells by binding to a protein on their surface called ACE2, which chaperones another protein called BOAT1, researchers led by Westlake University in Hangzhou, China, reported in the journal Science. The discovery could aid efforts to develop new treatments against COVID-19.

10. China's GenFleet banks $58M for cancer, autoimmune pipeline: report

China’s GenFleet Therapeutics raised $58 million in series B funding. The money will be used to support clinical trials of its pipeline, including small-molecule drug GFH018 for liver cancer, as well as the development of its immunological platform and the construction of an industrial site.