Harbour BioMed nabs meaty C round as cancer, COVID-19 work draws investors

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Just a few months after a series B-plus worth $75 million, U.S.-China biotech Harbour BioMed has nabbed a major $102.8 million series C, with an IPO surely not far behind.

Back in March, Harbour BioMed raised $75 million to continue moving multiple candidates through the clinic. The round, which Harbour described as a “series B+,” came shortly after the antibody specialist took its first internally originated candidate into the clinic outside of greater China.

Jingsong Wang, Sanofi’s former head of China R&D, set Harbour up late in 2016, reeling in a $50 million series A round and buying antibody research shop Harbour Antibodies in the process. The series A marked the start of a whirlwind of activity that saw Harbour in-license the Chinese rights to multiple drugs and raise an “A+” round before securing $85 million in series B funding in 2018.

Less than two years later, Harbour tapped a largely new syndicate of investors for another $75 million. And just four short months after that, it’s added a $102.8 million series C, taking its total raised to more than $300 million.

The financing was led by new investor Hudson Bay Capital, followed by OrbiMed, Country Garden VC, GTJA Investment Group, Octagon Capital, and Sage Partners, with additional investment from existing investor Greater Bay Area Investment Fund.

Harbour needs the money to fund a relatively large clinical-phase pipeline spearheaded by an anti-FcRn antibody and a TNF-alpha receptor inhibitor that are on the cusp of registration trials.

Harbour kick-started its pipeline by picking up the greater China rights to those drugs from HanAll Biopharma. However, the vast majority of Harbour’s earlier-stage assets originated from its own labs, giving it global ownership of multiple immunology and immuno-oncology prospects.

The most advanced of those prospects is HBM4003, an anti-CTLA-4 therapeutic currently being tested in patients with advanced solid tumors in Australia. Harbour is gearing up to add sites in the U.S. and Europe, making the program an early test of its ability to deliver on its global ambitions.

A drug against CTLA-4, namely Bristol Myers Squibb’s Yervoy, has been on the market for almost a decade, and AstraZeneca’s attempt to develop a rival has been beset by repeated setbacks. Yet Harbour thinks CTLA-4 represents a good use of its resources. That view reflects Harbour’s belief that its use of a heavy-chain-only antibody to drug CTLA-4 will improve on the safety of Yervoy.

It's also now working on a series of antibodies against SARS-CoV-02, including recent tie-ups with AbbVie for a monoclonal antibody tested as therapeutic/prophylactic use against the virus as well as a collab with Mt. Sinai Health System in New York aimed at discovering antibodies against SARS-CoV2 using its H2L2 Harbour Mice platform.

“The participation of new and current investors underscores enthusiasm for our clinical portfolio, our antibody discovery and development engine, as well as our strategy to build a leading global biopharmaceutical company,” said Wang.

“We have made great progress with our clinical programs and multiple promising, bi- and monospecific antibodies from our discovery engine that are rapidly moving towards clinical trials. The funding will support final development and initial commercialization of our late stage portfolio and advancement of both our earlier stage discovery and preclinical molecules.”

Don’t surprised, especially in this market, if an IPO is now in the cards.