Suzhou’s Alphamab Oncology files for IPO in Hong Kong

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A subsidiary of Suzhou-based biopharma firm Alphamab, Alphamab Oncology, has filed for an initial public offering (IPO) on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX), Endpoints News reports, following a reform allowing loss-making biotech firms to list.

Why it matters: Amid a backdrop of climbing rates of disease including cancer and diabetes, biotech is one the core tech segments that Beijing has targeted in its Made in China 2025 initiative. Biotech companies are among those that China’s new Nasdaq-like bourse, STAR Market, aims to lure. However, listings in the US are still seen as most desirable, while HKEX’s rule change last year allowing companies to file for an IPO absent a product or revenue has made the HKEX an equally enticing market.

  • Half of the 10 biggest biotech IPOs in the first half of 2019 were in Hong Kong and funds raised reached $3 billion combined.

Details: Alphamab Oncology is currently developing what BioSpace calls “next-generation multi-functional biologics therapy for cancer treatment based on its extensive expertise in protein engineering and proprietary platforms.”

  • The company’s IPO filing follows a $130 million Series A in November and a $60 million Series B in May. 
  • Alphamab Oncology is looking to bring in additional funds to support its research on therapies for small cell lung cancer, triple-negative breast cancer, and esophageal squamous-cell carcinoma. It is also looking to build new manufacturing and research and development facilities in Suzhou. 
  • Four of its drug candidates have advanced to the clinical development phase, with most trials being conducted in China. 
  • The company plans to commercialize its “user friendly bispecific antibody, KN035, in China by 2020, and expand to the US or other markets shortly after. 

Context: Cancer rates in China have surged in recent years, particularly lung and breast cancers, along with other diseases including diabetes. Beijing seeks to shore up development of new treatments and therapies to address the trend. Through its Made in China 2025 initiative, the government is granting tax breaks and subsidized land grants for labs and production, and has established 110 bioscience research parks across the country, according to a recent report by US-based tech think tank, Information Technology & Information Foundation.