Chinese Upstart Ascletis Bags $100 Million in Series B Financing

Published: Jan 04, 2017

Chinese Upstart Ascletis Bags $100 Million in Series B Financing January 3, 2017
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

HANGZHOU, China – Chinese biotech company Ascletis, which focuses on treatments of liver disease, scored $100 million in a Series B financing round. The company said it intends to use the proceeds to advance its pipeline as well as its sales force.

The financing round was supported by QianHai Equity Investment FOF, FOCUS Media Jiangnanchun Foundation, WTT Investment, as well as Goldman Sachs and Tasly Pharmaceutical which participated in series A financing. That round of financing, held in late 2015, secured the company $55 million.

Jinzi J. Wu, Ascletis’ founder and chief executive officer, said starting the new year with $100 million will lead to an “extraordinary 2017.”

“We aim to make the historical step of being the first Chinese company to launch in 2017 an innovative medicine treating CHC patients in China. We will expand our liver disease pipeline to provide more high quality medicines for Chinese and global markets,” Wu said in a statement.

Founded in 2013, Ascletis has two lead drugs in its pipeline, Danoprevir, which was licensed from Roche , and Ravidasvir, which was licensed from Presidio Pharmaceuticals. Both drugs are novel direct-acting antiviral agents. Both are aimed at the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. According to company information, clinical study results show that with 12-week treatment, the cure rate of both regimens exceeded 95 percent in genotype 1 CHC patients.

Ascletis filed a New Drug Application for Danoprevir with the Chinese Food and Drug Administration. Ravidasvir is given Priority Review Designation by CFDA.

Ascletis also has two other drug candidates in its pipeline: ASC06, a clinical stage, first-in-class, RNAi therapeutic for the treatment of liver cancers, which was licensed from Alnylam Pharmaceuticals ; and ASC09, a phase IIa completed HIV protease inhibitor, licensed from Janssen, a division of Johnson & Johnson .

In addition to supporting its hepatitis C treatments, Ascletis said the Series B financing will allow it to expand its focus to chronic hepatitis B. There are about 100 million people in China with chronic hepatitis, according to the World Health Organization. In July 2016, the WHO estimated China has about 90 million chronic hepatitis B sufferers and 10 million with chronic hepatitis C, according to a report in the South China Morning Post. While there is a significant portion of the Chinese population with chronic hepatitis, the Post said only about 2 percent of those patients receive the care they require, primarily due to costs.

Although a Chinese company, Ascletis does have a toe-hold in the United States. The company maintains a small operations site in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park.

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