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Biotech startup NiKang closes $50M Series B funding

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NiKang Therapeutics, based in Wilmington, has joined a small but growing number of Delaware biotech companies expanding in recent months. PHOTO COURTESY OF NIKANG THERAPEUTICS

WILMINGTON – NiKang Therapeutics Inc., a biotech startup working out of the Delaware Innovation Space on the DuPont Experimental Station, recently announced that it has closed a $50 million Series B financing round.

The company was incubated in 2017 with $10 million of seed funding by CBC Group, a Chinese health care investment firm formerly known as C-Bridge Capital. Today, NiKang is led by President Zhenhai Gao, who spent years working on Incyte Corporation’s cancer research.

Like Prelude Therapeutics, another Delaware-based biotech startup that has secured investment funding this year and has ties to Inctye, NiKang is researching small molecule inhibitors, a developing therapy that is more targeted in approach with fewer side effects than traditional cancer therapies like chemotherapy or radiation.

A notable success in the Delaware market with small molecule therapy is Jakafi, Incyte’s drug to treat rare types of blood and bone marrow cancer that has garnered annual sales of more than $1 billion since being approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about a decade ago.

In April, NiKang signed a deal with Chinese biopharmaceutical company Hansoh Pharma to develop its preclinical small molecule drug NKT-1992 to treat viral infections in China. In announcing that deal, which could be worth up to $100 million if fully developed with added tiered royalties if commercialized, Hansoh officials called NiKang a company that “has demonstrated impressive capabilities in drug discovery.”

NiKang’s Series B investment round was led by New York-based RTW Investments LP, and also included new investors Lilly Asia Ventures, Casdin Capital, HBM Healthcare Investments, Matrix Partners China, and Octagon Capital. CBC Group also participated in the deal that was advised by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. NiKang said the funds will support the preclinical and clinical development of several promising oncology programs and further enhance its drug discovery pipeline.

“We are very honored by the strong support from such a distinguished group of investors. This is a testimony to the strength of our pipeline and the capability of our dedicated team,” Gao said in a statement. “With this round of financing, we are well-positioned to advance our innovative therapeutics pipeline to help patients with unmet medical needs.”

As part of the Series B financing round, Dr. Roderick Wong, managing partner and chief investment officer of RTW Investments, will also join NiKang’s board of directors.

“NiKang has made remarkable progress identifying development candidates for some of the most difficult-to-drug targets. We are very pleased to partner with NiKang to support the company’s mission to discover and develop innovative and impactful therapeutics for patients around the world,” Wong added in a statement.

Aside from its $60 million in investment and untold proceeds from its Hansoh deal, NiKang also received a Paycheck Protection Program loan in April worth between $150,000 and $350,000, according to data from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

By Jacob Owens

[email protected]

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