GAITHERSBURG, Md., Feb. 28, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Viela Bio announced today that it has incorporated as an independent inflammation- and autoimmunity-focused biotechnology company after spinning out six molecules from MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca. Bing Yao, Ph.D., formerly Head of MedImmune's Respiratory, Inflammation & Autoimmunity Innovative Medicines unit, becomes Viela's first Chief Executive Officer.
Viela Bio will be an independent company, funded with up to $250 million from a consortium of investors led by Boyu Capital, 6 Dimensions Capital, and Hillhouse Capital, along with Temasek and Sirona Capital. AstraZeneca will remain the largest minority shareholder of Viela Bio.
"We are very pleased to become an important shareholder of Viela Bio and excited about the company's innovative therapeutics for autoimmune diseases. With its strong pipeline and world-class management team, we are highly confident that Viela will soon bring novel therapies to patients around the world," said Yanling Cao, Managing Director, Boyu Capital. "We would like to thank MedImmune and AstraZeneca for their strong support and look forward to working with shareholders and the management team to build an outstanding biotechnology company in the autoimmune space."
Startup to Launch with Robust Pipeline
Viela Bio will focus on developing treatments for severe autoimmune diseases by targeting critical pathways that are the root cause of disease. MedImmune will contribute three clinical and three pre-clinical potential new medicines to Viela Bio, including inebilizumab, currently in Phase II development. Inebilizumab, which has received Orphan Drug Designation from the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency, is being evaluated for the treatment of neuromyelitis optica, a rare condition that affects the optic nerve and spinal cord in approximately five in 100,000 people.
"We are launching Viela Bio with a strong investor backing and a very robust pipeline with multiple novel molecules in inflammation and autoimmunity," said Dr. Yao. "This is combined with a strong, expanding team that has in-depth scientific and clinical development expertise, and the ability to bring important, innovative medicines to patients."
Dr. Yao will be joined by Jorn Drappa, M.D., Ph.D., who was previously Vice President of Respiratory, Inflammation and Autoimmunity Clinical Development at MedImmune and will now be Head of Research & Development and Chief Medical Officer at Viela Bio.
Viela Bio will use the proceeds from the initial financing to deliver the Phase II study of inebilizumab, efficiently develop the early-stage portfolio and continue exploring existing and novel pathways for next-generation inflammation and autoimmune therapy. Viela Bio is based in Gaithersburg, MD.
"Autoimmune diseases represent one of the largest unmet medical needs globally," said Leon Chen, Managing Partner and CEO at 6 Dimensions Capital. "Viela Bio has been formed with a best-in-class biologics pipeline that is both high quality and includes comprehensive modalities tackling autoimmunity. As an investor in this startup, 6 Dimensions Capital is confident that those innovative programs will be advanced further, driven by experienced scientific and business leaders."
Michael Yi, Partner at Hillhouse Capital, added: "We are glad to be partners with a highly innovative biotech company, grown from world-class pharmaceutical roots. Hillhouse Capital is excited for the opportunity to work with the exceptional management team at Viela Bio to revolutionize the treatment for autoimmune diseases."
NOTES TO EDITORS
About Viela Bio
Viela Bio is a clinical-stage biotechnology company pioneering and advancing treatments for severe inflammation and autoimmune diseases. The Company's portfolio selectively targets shared critical pathways that are the root cause of disease. Led by a team of global leaders in inflammation and autoimmunity, Viela Bio strives to be a fully integrated biotechnology company, helping millions of patients worldwide. Viela Bio is located in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Learn more at www.vielabio.com
About Boyu Capital
Boyu Capital is one of the largest private investment firms in China. With offices in Beijing and Hong Kong, Boyu has provided long-term capital and operational expertise to some of the best-managed and most innovative companies across the media/technology, healthcare, consumer/retail, and financial services industries.
About 6 Dimensions Capital
6 Dimensions Capital is a leading healthcare focused investment firm with an in-depth focus and extensive coverage across China and the United States. It consists of a team of over 30 investment and supporting professionals with offices in Shanghai, Boston, Hong Kong and San Francisco. 6 Dimensions Capital currently manages an AUM of US$1.6 billion through 4 USD-denominated and 3 RMB-denominated funds, and has cultivated a portfolio of close to 60 companies.
In May 2017, Frontline BioVentures and WuXi Healthcare Ventures, two prominent and complementary China-U.S. healthcare investment firms, merged to form 6 Dimensions Capital. The Shanghai/San Francisco-based Frontline BioVentures has an established healthcare venture investment exposure in China and the Shanghai/Boston-based WuXi Healthcare Ventures has a proven advantage with its access to innovative startups in the U.S. The merger has created a powerhouse that aims to fund innovation in an optimal position to capture the biggest value appreciation on both sides of the Pacific.
About Hillhouse Capital
Founded in 2005, Hillhouse Capital is a global firm of investment professionals and operating executives who are focused on building and investing in high-quality business franchises that achieve sustainable growth. Independent proprietary research and industry expertise, in conjunction with world-class operating and management capabilities, are key to Hillhouse Capital's investment approach. Hillhouse Capital partners with exceptional entrepreneurs and management teams to create value, often with a focus on enacting innovation and technological transformation. Hillhouse Capital invests in the healthcare, consumer, TMT, advanced manufacturing, financials and business services sectors in companies across all equity stages, with a particular focus on Asia. Hillhouse Capital and its group members manage over US$35 billion in assets on behalf of institutional clients such as university endowments, foundations, sovereign wealth funds, and family offices.
Incorporated in 1974, Temasek is an investment company headquartered in Singapore. Supported by 11 offices internationally, Temasek owns a US$197 billion portfolio as of March 31, 2017, mainly in Singapore and the rest of Asia.
Our portfolio covers a broad spectrum of industries: financial services; telecommunications, media & technology; transportation & industrials; consumer & real estate; life sciences & agribusiness; as well as energy & resources. Our investment activities are guided by four investment themes and the long term trends they represent: Transforming Economies; Growing Middle Income Populations; Deepening Comparative Advantages; and Emerging Champions. For more information on Temasek, please visit www.temasek.com.sg
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SOURCE Viela Bio