March 23, 2021
Zenas BioPharma Launches as a Cross-Border Biopharmaceutical Company to Bring Innovation to the Development and Delivery of Immune-Based Therapies
Lead product candidate, ZB001, has first-in-class potential in China for Thyroid Eye Disease
Rapidly advancing seven pipeline programs, including three worldwide, with best-in-class potential in autoimmune and rare diseases
Expanding a proven leadership team of veteran life science industry executives
Company founded and initially funded by Tellus BioVentures and Fairmount
HONG KONG and BOSTON, March 23, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Zenas BioPharma (“Zenas”) launched today as a cross-border biopharmaceutical company committed to becoming a global leader in the development and delivery of immune-based therapies for patients in China and throughout the world.
Zenas was founded and initially funded by Tellus BioVentures, LLC (“Tellus”) and Fairmount Funds Management LLC (“Fairmount”) and is additionally backed by a syndicate of leading global life science investment funds including Quan Capital, WuXi Biologics Healthcare Ventures and Wellington Management.
Lonnie Moulder, Managing Member of Tellus and Founder of Zenas, serves as Executive Chairman and Interim Chief Executive Officer. As a veteran life sciences founder and executive, he brings to Zenas a track record of success and the necessary skills to navigate the global biopharmaceutical landscape. Mr. Moulder has assembled an experienced leadership team with strong credentials in acquiring, developing and commercializing products across the globe.
“We are excited about the launch of Zenas BioPharma and its pipeline of differentiated product candidates. These potentially best-in-class products are intended to bring innovation to patients with underserved diagnoses while also maximizing value across the healthcare ecosystem,” said Mr. Moulder. “The expanding Zenas leadership team and our network of business partners will drive operational excellence to deliver potentially transformative therapies to improve the lives of people living with autoimmune and rare diseases.”
“We are thrilled to invest in and support this new venture lead by a proven and experienced team,” added Marietta Wu, MD, Ph.D., MBA, Managing Director at Quan Capital and Zenas Board Member. “Immunology is an area of transformative innovation poised to solve great unmet medical needs. We are confident that by leveraging cross border research and development capabilities and resources, Zenas will rapidly advance its current portfolio and establish its global leadership with an expanded pipeline coupled with a strong footprint in China.”
Rapidly Advancing Pipeline
Zenas debuts with a deep pipeline of seven innovative immune-based therapeutics that will continue to expand through a successful business development strategy. Zenas owns worldwide rights to three of the seven pipeline programs, which uniquely positions the Company to be global in scope.
Zenas innovation is defined by the selection of product candidates that are designed with best-in-class potential and then advanced utilizing differentiated development and commercial strategies to address patient needs AND the value requirements of the dynamic healthcare environment. Zenas innovation further includes acquiring or discovering first-in-class product candidates based upon new knowledge in the evolving field of immunology.
ZB001 and ZB011
Zenas is developing its lead product candidate ZB001, an insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF1R) monoclonal antibody (mAb), for the potential treatment of patients in China with thyroid eye disease (TED). TED is a debilitating condition that significantly impacts quality of life and can cause proptosis (“bulging eyes”), double vision and vision loss. ZB001, a potential first-in-class product in China, was exclusively in-licensed from Viridian Therapeutics, Inc. (“Viridian”) (NASDAQ: VRDN).
More than 100 oncology patients have previously been treated with the antibody in US and EU studies, under the name AVE-1642, enabling understanding of its pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profile, as well as its safety and tolerability. Viridian maintains all rights outside of China and is developing the IGF1R mAb under the name VRDN-001. This program is advancing rapidly with an expected Investigational New Drug (“IND”) application filing by Viridian in late 2021, followed by a Zenas filing in China. Data from the first clinical trial involving patients is expected to be available in 2022.
In parallel with ZB001 development, Viridian and Zenas initiated the ZB011 program, which seeks to improve IGF1R-targeted antibodies to further enhance dosing and convenience.
ZB002, ZB003 and ZB004
The Zenas pipeline also includes three potentially best-in-class mAbs (ZB002, ZB003, ZB004) exclusively in-licensed worldwide from Xencor, Inc. (NASDAQ: XNCR). These three mAbs were engineered with XmAb™ technology for improved potency, half-life, and stability and are undergoing IND-enabling studies to support clinical development for both new and established autoimmune disease indications.
ZB005 and ZB006
Zenas additionally entered a collaboration with Dianthus Therapeutics, Inc. (“Dianthus”) that provides China rights for two mAb programs, ZB005 and ZB006. Dianthus is a privately held biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of monoclonal antibody therapeutics that modulate the immune complement system for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. IND-enabling activities are underway for ZB005, the first of the two programs.