BioSpace | China's Adagene Snags $69 Million to Advance Cancer Pipeline Published: Jan 08, 2020 | By Alex Keown

China-based Adagene received an infusion of $69 million in a Series D financing round. The funds will be used to support the development of its lead clinical assets under development as cancer treatments.

Peter Luo, co-founder and chief executive officer of Adagene, said the $69 million funding round will boost the clinical programs for ADG106 and ADG116, as well as extend the “frontiers” of the company’s novel technology. Adagene combines artificial intelligence and computational biology to design differentiated antibodies that have the potential to be treatments with increased efficacy and safety.

ADG106, Adagene’s most advanced clinical program, is a first-in-class anti-CD137 monoclonal IgG4 antibody. It is currently being studied in a Phase I clinical trial in patients with advanced or metastatic solid and liquid tumors. Preliminary data have demonstrated ADG106’s superior safety profile and early efficacy signals and significant biomarker response demonstrating T-cell proliferation have been observed, the company said.

Adagene’s lead antagonist program, ADG116, is a fully human and cross-reactive antagonistic anti-CTLA-4 monoclonal IgG1 antibody. It has a novel mechanism of action including dynamic modulation of CTLA-4 by soft ligand blocking and highly effective depletion of regulatory T cells, the company said. The drug recently won approval for an Investigational New Drug Application from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The Series D financing round brings Adagene’s total funding from private investors to $150 million. The company has been supported by F-Prime, Eight Roads, WuXi AppTec, GP Healthcare Capital, New World TMT, Sequoia China and General Atlantic, among others. The Series D was led by General Atlantic, which provided $50 million.

David Hodgson, vice chairman of General Atlantic, said some of the most exciting developments in the life sciences are occurring in China and Adagene is at the forefront.

“We believe China is a rising, vibrant hub for global life sciences innovation. Adagene represents a new-generation biotechnology company that is driving global innovation. Its cutting-edge Dynamic Precision Library platform, combined with its dedicated founders and management team, allows Adagene to advance assets of true novelty to the value inflection point,” Lefei Sun, managing director and head of Healthcare for China at General Atlantic said in a statement. “We are proud to partner with Adagene as we increase our commitment to the life sciences industry in China.”

Last year, Adagene forged a relationship with ADC Therapeutics, Celgene (now part of Bristol-Myers Squibb) and the National Institutes of Health. In the deal with ADC Therapeutics, that company planned to use Adagene’s SAFEbody technology to create a masked antibody that can be combined with ADC Therapeutics’ pyrrolobenzodiazepine cytotoxic payload technology to create an antibody drug conjugate against cancer. Only weeks before, Adagene and Celgene announced a deal to use Adagene’s Dynamic Precision Library to discover antibodies against targets picked by Celgene.
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