CAMARILLO, Calif. and NANJING, China, May 9, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — AskGene Limited (“AskGene”), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focusing on discovery and development of innovative biological drugs, today announced the completion of USD 20 million in Series A financing. The financing was led by Qiming Venture Partners and TF Capital. Proceeds from the financing will be used to advance clinical development of AskGene’s robust pipeline of innovative therapeutic candidates and development of SmartKine® cytokine prodrug platform.

Cytokines are well validated co-stimulators and hold great promise in immunotherapy, however, they have short half-lives, severe systemic toxicity and narrow therapeutic windows. SmartKine® is a transformational cytokine technology platform developed by AskGene with global intellectual property rights. The technology overcomes the limitations of current cytokine therapeutics, brings next-generation cytokine therapies to patients with unmet medical needs. SmartKine® molecules are designed to selectively activate a subset of immune cells preferentially at a disease site to enhance the function selectivity, developability and therapeutic indexes of cytokines. 

“We are very pleased to have support from first-class investors who share our vision to modulate immune system at disease sites with precision,” said Jeff Lu, Chief Executive Officer of AskGene Limited. “This is an exciting time for our company. We are advancing several potentially first-in-class or best-in-class molecules from our SmartKine® platform to preclinical development and clinical development later this year. In addition, our clinical programs ASKB589 and ASKG712 are progressing smoothly.  We look forward to promising results from multiple clinical programs later this year and next year.”

“Cancer is still one of the major disease burdens for patients and IO has demonstrated its effectiveness”, stated William Hu, Managing Partner of Qiming Venture Partners, “AskGene’s team shows deep understanding in IO and protein engineering. We believe their proprietary platform continues to generate more pipelines to clinic and market.”

Allan Liu, Director at TF Capital commented: “Application of immunostimulatory cytokines has become a promising approach in cancer immunotherapy, however unfavorable PK and safety profile limit their further clinical development and application. AskGene’s proprietary SmartKine® platform can overcome limitations of first-generation recombinant cytokines by achieving conditional activation of cytokines in the tumor microenvironment to unleash the full therapeutic potential. We are thrilled to partner with AskGene’s exceptional leadership team as they advance SmartKine® molecules into the clinic with the ultimate goal of providing better outcomes to cancer patients.”

About Qiming Venture Partners

Founded in 2006, Qiming Venture Partners is a leading China venture capital firm with offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou, Hong Kong, Seattle, Boston and the San Francisco Bay Area. Currently Qiming Venture Partners manages ten US Dollar funds and six RMB funds with over $6.2 billion in AUM capital raised. Since its establishment, Qiming Venture Partners has invested in outstanding companies in the TMT and healthcare industries at the early and growth stages.

Since its debut, Qiming Venture Partners has backed over 430 fast-growing and innovative companies. Over 170 companies are already listed on NYSE, NASDAQ, HKEx, Gretai Securities Market, Shanghai Stock Exchange and Shenzhen Stock Exchange, or achieved exit through M&A and other means. There are also over 40 portfolio companies that have achieved unicorn status.

About TF Capital

TF Capital focuses on investment in the life sciences industry, primarily investing in early-stage companies with high potential. Through strategic investments in various key areas and right partnerships, TF Capital hopes to capture opportunities in the rapidly expanding Chinese life sciences market. Our investment team has vast experience and resources in industry to assist our portfolio companies. 

About AskGene

AskGene is an innovative company advancing immunotherapies for cancers and autoimmune diseases. The vision of the company is to apply next-generation platform technology to unlock the full therapeutic potential of cytokines with better safety profiles. Through its SmartKine® platform technology and pipeline programs, AskGene aspires to achieve its overarching objective of modulating immune system at a disease site with selectivity and precision. Additional clinical stage programs include ASKB589 (an anti-CLDN 18.2 antibody in phase I/II) and ASKG712 (an anti-VEGF antibody-ANG2 antagonist peptide fusion molecule in phase I).

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