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2022-11-10| ChinaFunding

Zenas Picks Up $118 Million To Advance Phase 3 For Autoimmune Candidate

by Joy Lin
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US and China-based Zenas BioPharma has raised $118 million in a Series B equity financing to advance its pipeline of immunotherapies and launch a Phase 3 registration trial of its lead product candidate, obexelimab, in patients with IgG4-related disease (IgG4-RD).

The Series B was led by Enavate Sciences and was joined by new investors Longitude Capital, Vivo Capital, Rock Springs Capital, Perceptive Advisors, Agent Capital, Pivotal bioVenture Partners, and Superstring capital. Existing investors Fairmount, Wellington Management, Tellus BioVentures, Quan Venture Fund, and Xencor also participated.

The latest round sees Enavate Sciences CEO Jim Boylan, Longitude Capital Co-founder, and Managing Director Patrick Enright, and Vivo Capital Managing Partner Hongbo Lu join the Zenas Board of Directors.

Related Article: Andera Partners Drums Up $443 Million For Its Largest Life Sciences Fund

Phase 3 Expected To Begin in Late 2022

Zenas has confirmed that the proceeds will advance the clinical program of obexelimab (ZB012), a bifunctional CD19-FcƳRIIB antibody that inhibits B-cells. This includes the launch of a Phase 3 trial in patients with IgG4-RD that could take place in late 2022, the company said. IgG4-RD is a chronic inflammatory condition that could lead to organ dysfunction or failure. 

Earlier clinical trials have shown that obexelimab inhibits B-cell function without depleting the cells. Zenas acquired worldwide rights to the drug from Xencor last July and has promised $480 million in milestone payments as well as royalties on net product sales. 

Additionally, the new funds will help push Zenas’ other autoimmune disease programs into clinical development in 2023. Besides obexelimab, Zenas has two global autoimmune candidates ZB002 and ZB004 in the preclinical stage and three regional programs: ZB001 and ZB011 for thyroid eye disease (TED), and ZB005 for autoimmune indications. In August, Zenas obtained IND approval in China to begin a Phase 1/2 of ZB001 for TED.  

“We are thrilled to support Zenas as an innovative leader in biotechnology as the team executes the clinical development plans for IgG4-RD and the robust pipeline of immune-based therapies so adeptly acquired through strategic business development. We believe Zenas will successfully commercialize innovative therapies to improve the lives of those facing autoimmune and rare diseases,” said James Boylan, CEO of Enavate. 

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