Durham drug startup to target variety of therapies with $155M in new funding

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by Chantal Allam, NCBiotech writer

 Brii Biosciences is plowing ahead with its clinical development programs after landing a whooping $155 million in funding.

The startup, with headquarters in Durham and Beijing, China, confirmed today that it raised the Series C financing from Invesco Developing Markets Fund. GIC, Lake Bleu Capital and three current investors provided additional funding.

The company said proceeds would be used to advance Brii Bio’s “broad infectious diseases pipeline as well as the company’s CNS program.”

“Brii Bio has made tremendous progress toward our mission to accelerate the development and delivery of breakthrough medicines through partnerships and our own insight in highly differentiated medicine discovery,” said Zhi Hong, Ph.D., CEO of Brii Bio. “We are pleased and honored to have the support of investors.”

In 2018, Brii, an acronym for breakthrough innovation and insight, launched with $260 million in initial funding from global investors.

The goal: to bring innovative new medicines to China – the world’s second-largest prescription drug market.

At its launch, it enlisted some veteran advisors including Clay Thorp, general partner of the Durham-based venture capital firm Hatteras Venture Partners, who previously co-founded several life sciences companies in North Carolina.

James Klein, who was chief financial officer at several bioscience companies including Durham-based Triangle Pharmaceuticals, an HIV-focused company that was sold to Gilead Sciences in 2002, also joined the team. According to his LinkedIn account, he currently serves as a financial consultant.

At present, Brii is conducting clinical studies in multiple infectious diseases. They include:

  • HBV: Initiation of a Phase 2 study of BRII-835 (VIR-2218) in combination with BRII-179 (VBI-2601) in patients who are chronically infected with HBV is planned for this month.
  • COVID-19 antibody therapies: BRII-196 and BRII-198, non-competing SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies, are part of the Phase 2/3 studies under ACTIV-2 master protocols, sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
  • Multi-drug resistant Gram-negative bacterial infections: BRII-636 (OMNIvanceTM), BRII-672 (ORAvanceTM) and BRII-693 (QPX-9003) are potent antibiotics against WHO-designated critical pathogens to treat carbapenemase producing Enterobacteriaceae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumannii.
  • New HIV treatment options: Once Weekly Single Tablet Regimen (QW STR): A Phase 1 clinical study for BRII-778 has started and a U.S IND for BRII-732 was submitted this month. The company will investigate the potential of prolonged dosing interval for people who live with HIV.
  • Novel treatment for central nervous system disease: The Phase 1 clinical trials for BRII-296 will begin shortly under a U.S. IND.

Original Article Source: WRAL TechWire