Hangzhou, China, March 29th, 2021 – Qihan Biotechology, Co. Ltd (“Qihan” or “the Company”), a leader in applying multiplexable genome editing technology to cell therapies and organ transplantation, announced today that it has raised an additional $67 million in Series A++ financing. Proceeds from the financing will primarily be used to advance Qihan’s pipeline of novel cell therapies in IND-enabling studies and hypoimmunity projects, and expansion of the company’s GMP manufacturing facilities.
The financing was backed by new investors including leading biomedical venture capital firm, Lilly Asia Ventures and Matrix Partners China, as well as existing shareholders, Sequoia and CMB International. With these investments, Qihan’s total Series A financing raised to date has exceeded $100 million.
Cell therapy is rapidly becoming an important weapon against cancer and other serious diseases, but technological optimization in cell therapy remains a critical need. Autologous cell therapy can avoid immune rejection to a certain extent, but prohibitive costs put these therapies out of reach for many patients. The allogeneic cell therapy currently available requires patients to take immunosuppressive drugs, often for life, to avoid rejection of cells by the patient's immune system. A cost-effective solution to these two issues would bring hope to millions of patients and families around the world.
Qihan is using its deep professional knowledge of transplantation immunology to develop that solution. The Company’s research team uses high-throughput multiplexable gene editing technology to develop “immune-privileged” human stem cells, that will not be attacked or rejected. Qihan is focused on developing off-the-shelf, or universal, cell therapy products, which compared to autologous cell therapy products, are more widely targeted and more affordable to patients.
Through its experience with xenotransplantation animal models, Qihan is able to identify and edit the genes in human cells that affect immune rejection to achieve low- to risk-free allogeneic cell therapy. The Company has advanced the editing process, directly editing stem cells, and inducing their proliferation and differentiation to produce high volumes of immune cells. This not only reduces production costs, but improves the efficiency and targeting of gene editing, greatly improving the clinical accessibility of cell therapy products.
The Company’s first cell therapy products for human clinical trials are now in development. Considering the long research period and difficulty of xenotransplantation products, Qihan may commercialize cell therapy products prior to xenotransplantation.
“We are delighted to expand our investor base with support from high caliber investors including Lilly Asia Ventures,” said Dr. Luhan Yang, founder and CEO of Qihan Biotech. “The expanded Series A funds will allow us to advance both Qihan’s near-term focus of developing allogeneic cell therapies and our long-term mission of developing xenogeneic organs for clinical application.
“We will also be working toward growing our GMP manufacturing capacity to support rapid development and scale-up of our therapies. We look forward to continuing to expand our pipeline and working toward our vision of a world in which cell and organ therapies are universally available to patients.”
About Qihan Biotech
Qihan Biotech is a biotechnology company applying genome-editing technology to develop novel cell therapies and organs for transplantation. The company’s mission is to use high-throughput, multiplexable genome editing in combination with expertise in transplantation immunology to create immunologically privileged allogeneic cells and xenogeneic organs for use as therapies to treat cancer, organ failure, and other important medical conditions. With a vision to create a world in which cell and organ therapies are universally available to patients, Qihan Biotech has raised a total of $100 million in fundraising and is advancing its cell therapy programs into IND-enabling investigations. Qihan Biotech is headquartered in Hangzhou, China. For more information, please visit www.qihanbio.com.
About Lilly Asia Ventures
Lilly Asia Ventures (LAV) is a leading biomedical venture capital firm, with offices in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Palo Alto. LAV’s vision is to become the trusted partner for exceptional entrepreneurs seeking smart capital and to build great companies developing breakthrough products that treat diseases and improve human health.