China upstart CStone Pharma has raised a major $150 million in a Series A funding drive as it looks to boost its research in immuno-oncology.
The biotech also announced that Dr. Frank Jiang, a former Sanofi ($SNY) research exec, has taken up the post of chief executive.
The biotech saw this round backed by some major Chinese venture players, including Oriza Seed Venture Capital, Boyu Capital, and the perennial investor WuXi Healthcare Ventures. The biotech was incorporated at the end of last year.
The company, which was brief on details, said much of the money will be used on an R&D push into the hot ticket of immuno-oncology, as well as in cardiovascular diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, hematology and autoimmune diseases.
Details of its future and/or current programs were not provided, however, and it's unclear what clinical or preclinical stage these plans are at. The biotech said in a statement that it is striving to “lead Chinese research to the global market through its world class R&D team, its innovative portfolio, and an open innovation strategy."
Yanlin Cao, managing director at Boyu, said: "We are very pleased to have the opportunity to become a founding shareholder of CStone. This unique investment demonstrates Boyu's long term commitment to the thriving biotech industry in China.
"With a strong portfolio of assets and an experienced management team, CStone will emerge as a leading R&D platform in China to provide innovative immunotherapy for oncology diseases. We look forward to sharing our expertise and resources with CStone, and working with other shareholders and the management team to build a world-class biotech company to bring clinical benefits to patients globally."
As well as the $150 million, the biotech also gains a new leader in Dr. Jiang, who while at Sanofi led the company’s 21,000-patient trial for the heart drug Lovenox (enoxaparin). He’s been based in China for the past decade with the French pharma as its head of Asia-Pacific R&D.
"I am honored to take the role of CEO of CStone," said Dr. Jiang. "As a physician by background, I am passionate about delivering effective therapies to patients in the greatest need, and I believe our company is uniquely well-positioned to make a transformative contribution to the healthcare landscape in China.
“We will initially focus on immuno-oncology therapeutics to address the specific unmet medical needs of Chinese cancer patients, but I envisage a long-term future for CStone as a well-recognized global player to develop innovative medicines in the fight against serious diseases."
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