Quick China dealmaking as TVM, Lummy tie with Argos on oncology candidate

TVM Capital Life Science moved quickly to tap a new $50 million venture capital fund with investment from Chinese partner Lummy Co. in a licensing deal for an oncology dendritic vaccine. Research Triangle Park-based Argos Therapeutics ($ARGS) has reached an agreement with Lummy Hong Kong to license technology from Argos to develop cancer immunotherapies in Greater China.

Lummy, a unit of Chongqing Lummy Pharmaceutical, gets development and commercialization rights in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau for AGS-003 in oncology indications and bears costs for development through to potential regulatory approval.

Argos has a Phase III study in progress on metastatic renal cell carcinoma therapy, and the company said it may explore other therapy applications for lung, liver, stomach, rectal and esophageal cancers.

On Monday, TVM Capital Life Science said its first close for China BioPharma Capital I reached $50 million aimed at "investments in life science innovation in Western companies with the objective to obtain licenses for development and commercialization in China," according to a news release.

Subscribers included Shenzhen-listed Chongqing Lummy Pharmaceutical as a strategic investor. In October 2014, the firm--closely allied with Eli Lilly ($LLY)--bumped up its fund past the $200 million mark with plans then to bankroll up to 15 build-to-buy drug development projects.

"The Arcelis technology platform also holds great promise for automating the manufacturing and commercialization of a portfolio of fully personalized immunotherapies and we look forward to working with Argos to initiate our own development programs to bring products based on this innovative technology to the patients we serve," said Qiu Yu, chairman of Lummy Hong Kong.

- here's the Argos release