Nine months after dumping an Ionis-partnered hypercholesterolemia asset, AstraZeneca has teamed up with a self-described “young” Chinese biotech to work on new drugs to target the condition.
The three-year agreement will see Shanghai-based Cholesgen receive an undisclosed initial payment from the British Big Pharma to pursue first-in-class targets and mechanisms for hypercholesterolemia and related metabolic diseases originally identified by the biotech’s Chinese researchers.
Cholesgen will also be entitled to further payments—based on an agreed but undisclosed license package—for every candidate that AstraZeneca decides to take into the clinic.
Cholesgen was founded in 2021 by leading cholesterol metabolism researcher Bao-Liang Song. The biotech raised $14 million in a series A financing round last week, with backers including AZ-CICC Medical Fund, a joint investment fund set up by AstraZeneca and financial services company China International Capital Corporation Limited.
Song, who is also the biotech’s chair, described the company as a “young biotech with deep understanding of target biology and a focused pipeline.”
AstraZeneca had another iron in the fire for treating hypercholesterolemia in the form of the Ionis-partnered ION449. The antisense therapy hit its primary endpoint of reducing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in a phase 2b trial in September 2022. However, the results fell short of AstraZeneca’s efficacy criteria and the company opted against moving the candidate into phase 3.