China startup Suzhou Medilink Therapeutics nabs $50M for hot R&D cancer field

Using antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) tech against cancer targets has become hot property in recent years, and a new Chinese biotech is cashing in on the craze.

Suzhou Medilink Therapeutics (aka Medilink) is looking for the next-gen form of ADC, a relatively new class of potent biological drugs built by attaching a small-molecule anticancer drug or another therapeutic agent to an antibody.

The antibody targets a specific antigen only found on target cells, and, once it binds to the cell, it triggers internalization of the antibody together with the drug.

There are technical barriers to use this platform against cancers, however, and some companies have been beset by trial issues in the past.

Medilink says it wants to take the ADC tech, which is used by the likes of Roche and a growing host of biopharmas, to the next level and overcome these barriers, and it now has $50 million in a series A financing to “accelerate its innovative pipeline development and to support its unique conjugate technology platform.”

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The financing includes a series A1 round led by Apricot Capital and a series A2 round co-led by Loyal Valley Capital and Qiming Venture Partners. It is not giving away details of just how its platform will be next-gen, but the biotech, founded just last year, said it is being led by “a sophisticated team of industrial veterans," which includes Jiaqiang Cai, M.D. its chief scientific officer, who has worked for nearly 30 years in small-molecule and ADC drug R&D and served previously as the vice president at Shanghai Hansoh Pharmaceutical.

It added that it “aims to serve the vast unmet medical needs in China, and create global value through conducting multicenter clinical trials and cross-border collaborations.”

"Our team has extensive knowledge in ADC technology and project development. Our aim is to develop medicines with real benefit for patients around the world. The ADC field has experienced a series of significant breakthroughs in recent years and we believe that there is still an urgent need to develop more efficacious and safer ADC drugs,” said Tongtong Xue, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Medilink.

“With solid support from our prestigious investors, we will focus on our conjugate platform and swiftly build up our differentiated pipeline, to meet huge unmet needs worldwide.”