China's Adlai Nortye nabs another cool $100M for its immuno-oncology pipeline

Adlai Nortye has added $100 million to the bank to fuel a phase 3 clinical trial of its lead program, gained through a 2018 deal with Novartis, and a pipeline of nine other drug candidates. 

The Chinese biopharmaceutical inked the financing, matching the size of an August 2020 series C, earlier this week, according to a Deal Street Asia report. Adlai Nortye did not immediately respond to a request for comment. SDIC Capital and existing investor Tigermed led the latest round. 

Proceeds will help fund Adlai Nortye's pipeline of immuno-oncology drug candidates, of which there are currently 10 in development, the company has said. Endpoints News reported some funds will go toward mergers and acquisitions and strategic collaborations, as well.

In April, the company said it dosed the first patient in a phase 3 test of its lead asset, buparlisib, an oral P13K inhibitor that it gained the worldwide rights to from Novartis in 2018.

RELATED: Novartis hands off buparlisib to China's Adlai Nortye

A December 2017 paper in The Lancet Oncology advocated against the further development of the buparlisib. That paper focused on a study of the treatment in combination with fulvestrant in patients with HR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer. 

Adlai Nortye is testing the drug in patients with recurrent or static head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), in which it hopes to prove its worth, though this target too has seen trial setbacks and flops in recent years, depsite its growing prevalence in some parts of the world. With the phase 3 trial underway, Adlai expects to recruit 500 patients from 150 clinical centers in 15 countries across North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. 

"With an impressive median overall survival of 10.4 months and the FDA granted Fast-Track designation, Buparlisib (AN2025) has the potential to become the first PI3K inhibitor on the market for patients with HNSCC," said Lars Birgerson, M.D., Ph.D., Adlai Norye's chief medical officer, in a statement announcing the trial start. 

Also in the pipeline is a completed phase 2 trial of pelareorep, an intravenously administered treatment for HR-positive, HER2-metastatic breast cancer.

Adlai Nortye is in phase 1 studies of palupiprant, an oral EP4 antagonist in multiple solid tumors. In January 2019, the company signed a clinical collaboration with Merck to evaluate the combination of the antagonist, AN0025, with the Big Pharma blockbuster checkpoint inhibitor Keytruda.