China's Adagene grabs a $28M round to back antibody engineering platform

A little more than a year after its Series A round, Suzhou, China-based Adagene has roped in a new venture investor to participate in a $28 million round for the antibody platform company, joining some familiar VC players in the industry.

Adagene was co-founded by Peter Luo, who co-founded Abmaxis and then went on to work for Merck ($MRK) after the pharma giant bought the biotech in 2006 for $80 million cash. After a stint as head of antibody engineering, he founded Adagene in 2010, where he's been working on mono and bispecific antibodies targeting particular antigens--a big space in the oncology field.

The biotech was backed early on by Eight Roads Ventures China (formerly Fidelity Growth Partners Asia), F-Prime Capital (formerly Fidelity Biosciences) and WuXi Corporate Venture Fund, all of which came back for the Series B. New World TMT jumped in for the first time with this raise. Adagene raised $8 million for its Series A back in late 2014.

Shanghai-based WuXi PharmaTech has been steadily increasing its venture bets in biotechs around the world. Its Healthcare Ventures fund took new stakes in Twist Bioscience in San Francisco as well as Cambridge, MA-based Syros. And the newly renamed F-Prime has an ambitious global perspective investing in up-and-coming biotechs.

"Adagene has pioneered new methods of antibody design and construction to make simple things easy and difficult things possible," Luo said back when the Series A came through in 2014. "We continually build new libraries to explore important underrepresented and novel target spaces, with very high fidelity between design and construction."

- here's the release