Shanghai-based I-Mab Biopharma filed for an initial public offering (IPO) on the Nasdaq stock exchange as it looks to accelerate its China-based drug commercialization process, Endpoints News reported

Why it matters: A US IPO will aid I-Mab’s strategy for biologic development by giving it a foothold in the US, where approval of its drugs by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) helps get them fast-tracked to commercialization in China.  

  • First, I-Mab conducts proof-of-concept trials in the US with the goal of getting FDA clearance for in-human studies. 
  • The data gathered from those studies are used to speed clinical development in China.
  • Once a drug has been clinically validated in the US, I-Mab can retain Chinese rights for continued development and eventually commercialization. 
  • The process takes advantage of a 2018 Chinese government reform that fast-tracks internationally developed drugs.

Details: The firm said it is looking to raise $100 million, a common placeholder figure, to use for research and development of drug candidates, to invest in trials in China and the US, and to fund construction of manufacturing facilities in Hangzhou. 

  • Jefferies LLC and China International Capital Corp. Hong Kong Securities Ltd. are the book-running managers, representatives, and underwriters for the IPO. 

Context: Founded in 2016, I-Mab Biopharma develops treatments for cancers and autoimmune diseases.  

  • The company has raised more than $400 million in the last three years and has five treatments currently in-process or ready for phase II or phase III trials in China.
  • The growth of China’s biologics market has already outpaced the rest of the world and is expected to reach $189.4 billion in sales by 2030, according to a Frost & Sullivan report cited in its prospectus.
  • I-Mab’s filing follows the IPO of another Chinese cancer drug firm, Suzhou-based Ascentage Pharma, which listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange on Friday, netting $53 million. 

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