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The biggest Asia-Pacific biotech investments in May 2022

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Healthcare-focused biotech companies won the biggest private investments in the Asia-Pacific region in May 2022, led by a $100 million Series A from the Chinese anti-inflammatory drug developer Reistone Biopharma.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Chinese biotechs generally took home the biggest private funding rounds in May 2022. The top rank went to Reistone Biopharma, located in Shanghai, China. The firm will use the proceeds to bankroll the development of a treatment for inflammatory conditions including inflammatory bowel diseases and atopic dermatitis. 

Reistone’s drug is designed to block a set of proteins involved in the inflammation process called the janus kinase (JAK) enzyme family. Several approved drugs already target this family, but Reistone aims to produce a more selective drug that could produce fewer side effects.

Yuanneng Bio took the second spot with a $61.6 million Series A round. The company is developing a cell manufacturing platform with an automated cold storage process to make it easier to process biological samples than current equipment. 

In third place, the Shanghai- and U.S.-based Laekna Therapeutics bagged a Series D round worth $61 million. The company will use the cash to advance its pipeline of small molecule treatments for cancer and rare genetic diseases. Laekna’s lead program is currently in phase 2 testing for the treatment of platinum-resistant ovarian cancer.

Japan’s biggest private biotech investment in May 2022 was a Series C round closed by Chordia Therapeutics. The firm, currently one of Japan’s hottest healthcare players, is developing cancer drugs that disrupt the processing of RNA in tumor cells. 

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Other notable Series A rounds from the Asia-Pacific region in May 2022 included a $37 million investment in the radiopharmaceutical developer Full-Life Technologies, a $22 million round raised by the RNA therapeutics player Starna Therapeutics, and a $10.6 million investment bagged by CellX, now the best-funded cultured meat developer in China. 

The king seed round in the Asia-Pacific region — worth around $15 million — went to the Singaporean firm Tetris Therapeutics. The firm is developing new versions of antibody-drug conjugates, a hot class of drugs that can selectively deliver chemotherapy drugs to tumor cells.  

Australian biotech Ankere Therapeutics came second in the seed round rankings. The firm debuted with a $7.1 million seed round and will use the cash to develop small molecule drugs for inflammatory lung diseases.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand synthetic biology firm Helico made a splash with a $1.3 million seed round. The round will be used to fund the development of a drug manufacturing platform by growing them in plants rather than in pharmaceutical facilities.

June 2022 is also promising some exciting rounds, with highlights so far including a $60 Series D round by the Hong Kong firm Insilico Medicine and a $126 million Series A investment closed by the Singaporean cell therapy developer Tessa Therapeutics.

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Cover image via Elena Resko