Exegenesis, a Chinese gene therapy company, successfully completed a series B financing of tens of millions of dollars. This round of financing was led by Legend Capital. Boyuan Capital, Taifu Capital, and the previous round of old shareholders Xianfeng Qiyun and Kaitai Capital followed the investment, Haoyue Capital acted as the exclusive financial advisor for this round of financing. This round of financing will be used to advance the clinical and research and development of the company’s multiple gene therapy pipelines.
Founded in July 2019 and located in Hangzhou, Exegenesis is an innovative pharmaceutical company dedicated to providing accessible gene therapy to the global market. The company brings together a group of the best scientists and entrepreneurs in the industry, forming a strong team in technology, production, operation, management and BD.
Exegenesis not only has a differentiated competitive advantage in terms of product line selection, technology platform, etc., but also has international leading strength in terms of production technology and large-scale mass production. It only took 4 months to build a gene that meets the cGMP standards of China, the United States and Europe. The treatment production workshop, its scalable, cost-controllable platform technology and large-scale production capacity can effectively help the company’s multiple product lines to rapidly advance to the clinic.
The company’s vision is to provide an epoch-making one-time cure, safe, effective and affordable gene therapy drugs for patients.
The founding team of Exegenesis has extensive experience in gene and cell therapy development. They have worked in many well-known gene therapy companies in the United States for more than 15 years. The team has a complete configuration and complementary expertise. It has rich experience in gene therapy drug design, preclinical research and clinical development. Successful experience in the industry, with top-notch genetic drug process development and large-scale GMP production capabilities.
From left to right: Wu Zhenhua, founder and CEO of Exegenesis Bio, Ye Guojie, co-founder and CSO, and Wang Lijun, co-founder and CTO
Among them, the founder and CEO Dr. Wu Zhenhua has nearly 20 years of R&D and management experience in major international pharmaceutical companies and start-up companies. After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester, Dr. Wu has been engaged in drug research and development in the United States for many years. He has served successively as senior scientist and chief scientist at Merck, deputy director and director of GlaxoSmithKline, vice president of United Neuroscience, and CEO of NeuExcell.
Dr. Wu has been engaged in the development of gene therapy for a long time, leading a number of neurological gene and cell therapy work in GlaxoSmithKline and NeuExcell. He was the president of the Philadelphia Region of the US-China Pharmaceutical Association (SAPA-GP) for many years and has extensive experience in team recruitment, management and operations.
Co-founder and CSO Dr. Ye Guojie has more than 20 years of drug development and management experience in the United States. He has long been engaged in the preclinical research and development of gene therapy vectors. He has established and managed the R&D department of the American gene therapy company Applied Genetics Technology Corporation (AGTC). Spot discovery, vector construction, small-scale virus production, functional testing, and the entire process of research and development of GLP toxicology and pharmacological studies (IND enabling studies).
After receiving his Ph.D. degree from the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Dr. Ye has successively engaged in post-doctoral research in molecular biology and molecular genetics of HSV oncolytic virus at Cornell University and the University of Chicago. Dr. Ye has served as MediGene scientist, senior scientist, AGTC R&D director, senior director and executive director. He has submitted 4 consecutive INDs to the FDA within 3 years and all have been approved to enter clinical trials.
Co-founder and CTO Wang Lijun has 15 years of experience in process development and production in the United States, of which 13 years have been engaged in work related to gene therapy vectors. After graduating from the University of Kansas with a master’s degree, she has been working in the US pharmaceutical industry. She has served as Deciphera pharmaceuticals R&D scientist, AGTC senior R&D scientist, Florida Biologix downstream R&D senior scientist, manager, process and GMP production director, Brammer Bio GMP DS production director , Encoded Therapeutics process and production director.
She has rich AAV, LV, recombinant protein and antibody process research and development, cGMP production experience and team management experience; she has an in-depth understanding of the production platform and technical bottlenecks of viral vectors, and has led the delivery of more than 20 clinical applications. Most of the virus batches of I, II, and III are used in human clinical trials for the first time in the world. She is very familiar with viral vector analysis methods and CMC production specifications. As the general person in charge of the process, he participated in or led the design of four GMP workshops for virus production.
The era of gene therapy is coming, the terminator of many intractable diseases
Gene therapy is based on DNA sequences to express the proteins needed to cure diseases, which can be “cured at one time” and is a potential terminator for a variety of intractable diseases, especially genetic diseases. In 2018, “Science” published an article saying that the era of gene therapy is coming. In 2020, gene therapy will show an explosive growth worldwide. 6 gene therapies have been launched, 5 are in the BLA stage, and 20 are in clinical phase III, expanding from early single-gene genetic diseases There are 16 disease fields and 191 indications, among which there are many common diseases with a large number of patients, such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
The capital market is very keen on gene therapy. According to incomplete statistics, more than 13 gene therapy companies overseas completed private equity financing in 2019. The total financing amount exceeded US$2 billion, an increase of more than 56% over 2018.
In terms of mergers and acquisitions, many large multinational pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, Novartis, Roche, etc., have actively deployed the field of gene therapy, of which 3 mergers and acquisitions amounted to more than US$5 billion. At the same time, many gene therapy companies have repeatedly achieved good results in the open market. For example, the Beam and Passage BIO of the 2020 IPO, their products are in the pre-clinical development stage, and there is still a long way to go before the IND application. The market value reaches 14.9 billion and 1.19 billion US dollars respectively. .
Strong market competitiveness, Exegenesis has unicorn potential
As an epoch-making emerging technology, gene therapy has very high technical barriers, and there are few gene therapies in China that have received clinical approval. Many companies face challenges in vector design and production. Whether they can design or screen out gene vectors with high tissue specificity, low immunogenicity, high infection efficiency, and high-efficiency long-term expression will directly affect the efficacy of the treatment; Whether to produce high-purity gene therapy vectors in a stable, large-scale, and low-cost manner will directly determine the strength of the company’s industrialization capabilities. The successful experience of the founding team of Exegenesis on these urgent problems indicates that it is expected to stand out from the domestic gene therapy companies and have the potential of being a unicorn.
Founder and CEO Dr. Wu Zhenhua said: “As an emerging biological treatment method, gene therapy has finally entered a take-off stage after more than 30 years of research accumulation and innovation. It has been demonstrated in hundreds of indications in more than a dozen disease fields. Huge application prospects. Our Exegenesis Bio innovates from viral vector design and construction, pre-clinical trials, process development, GMP production, clinical trial design and other aspects, and will build a complete industry from early R&D, clinical testing and commercial production Chain. We are confident in bringing epoch-making and innovative treatments to patients as soon as possible.”
Mr. Wang Junfeng, Managing Director of Legend Capital, said: “Gene therapy has a brand-new mechanism and delivery platform for medicines, and it has the opportunity to have a large number of medicines in the next five to ten years. It has become a hot field that international pharmaceutical companies are focusing on. China’s gene therapy industry is just new. At the beginning, AAV R&D, process and production talents were extremely scarce. As a company composed of a returnee entrepreneurial team, Jiain has well integrated the extremely rare human resources in the industry, and built a complete set of research and development, process, production and other links. And the core team with practical experience has the opportunity to become a leading gene therapy company in China and have the opportunity to participate in international competition. Junlian continues to conduct systematic research in the field of gene therapy, which is a huge opportunity in the field of gene therapy. With the rich experience and first-mover advantage of the management team headed by Mr. Wu, we decisively started. We hope to cooperate with the company more closely and in-depth in the future to promote the development of China’s gene therapy industry!”
Mr. Wang Yunhai, Director of Xianfeng Qiyun Investment, said: “Exegenesis Bio is based on the concept of serving patients, develops gene therapy drugs, focuses on the global market, and insists on innovation. Within 9 months, it has achieved a rich R&D pipeline construction and GMP production platform. The construction and the successful completion of a new round of financing truly embodies the team’s original intention to “grow into a leader in the field of gene therapy at the speed of China”.”
Mr. Chang Nannan, Vice President of Kaitai Capital, said: “In the cutting-edge direction of innovative drugs, Kaitai Capital insists on’investing in people, investing in the future.’ Since its investment last year, Exegenesis has demonstrated its performance in R&D and industrialization. With excellent innovation and execution ability, we believe that Exegenesis will bring more good news to patients in the future!”
Mr. Chen Penghui, founding partner of Boyuan Capital, said: “After decades of exploration, gene therapy as a platform technology has reached the critical point of commercialization, and has shown clinical efficacy close to the cure of many genetic diseases. At the same time. In the field of chronic diseases, antibody therapy using AAV as a carrier has also shown exciting preliminary data. We are very optimistic about the clinical prospects of gene therapy in China, and we are very honored to work with the Jiain team, hoping to bring it to domestic patients as soon as possible Gospel.”
Mr. Jiang Xiangren, Managing Partner of Taifu Capital, said: “The era of gene therapy has come. Gene therapy has obtained proof of concept in the field of rare diseases. It is expected to expand to the treatment of common diseases in the future. The potential is huge. The team of Jiain Biology has a wealth of genes. Experience in the therapeutic industry, covering the complete industry chain from vector design to production, is expected to become a leading company in gene therapy in China. Taifu Capital is fortunate to cooperate with the Jiain team to jointly promote the development of gene therapy products, and strive to market as soon as possible to benefit Chinese patients .”
Mr. Li Yishi, a partner of Haoyue Capital, said: “As an epoch-making technology, gene therapy has brought hopes of “curing” to a variety of intractable human diseases, especially genetic diseases caused by genetic defects. However, due to its vector design and large Large-scale production has extremely high technical barriers, and domestic companies are still in their infancy. The founding team of Exegenesis has worked in well-known overseas gene therapy companies for more than 15 years. It has top gene drug design, process development and GMP production capabilities, which is scarce in the domestic market Target, we are optimistic about the growth potential of Exegenesis, and we are honored to grow together with outstanding companies.”