Legend Biotech Partners With Investor Dream Team

After Legend Biotech was spun out by Chinese parent company GenScript, it landed on US shores with headquarters in Piscataway, New Jersey, and plans for an IPO in the near future. The firm researches and develops innovative, new cellular therapies designed to fight cancer, and their CAR-T work has drawn some of the most notable names in the biopharma industry as investors.

The Series A round brought in $150.5 million from the likes of Hudson Bay Capital Management, Lilly Asia Ventures, Vivo Capital, RA Capital Management, and Johnson & Johnson's JJDC. Capital raised will be used to fund R&D, take to market Legend’s pipeline pharmaceuticals, increase manufacturing capabilities, and improve the overall research and development platform.

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The firm initially attracted attention in 2017 when J&J paid Legend $350 million upfront for a global license for their anti-BCMA autologous CAR-T JNJ-4528. The treatment has since yielded some promising results after several trial participants responded positively to the procedure. The favorable results put JNJ-4528 on track for the biotech to file for approval in the US and Europe in the latter half of the year.

“CAR-T therapy is a very new type of immunotherapy. There are currently only two approved CAR-T therapies for the treatment of leukemia and lymphoma in the US and Europe,” said Yuan Xu, CEO of Legend Biotech. “How it works is you extract T cells – one of the most powerful components of the immune system – from the patient and engineer them to attack tumor cells, then reinfuse them into the patient.”

Xu points to JNJ-4528 as unique, explaining that the treatment binds to two sites on BCMA. This protein is highly expressed on myeloma cells, and the belief is that the therapy will provide longer remission times for people who did not respond to other treatments.

While Legend is considered a US-based company, it still maintains strong ties with its parent company. GenScript clarified in a previous filing that the spinoff of Legend "is intended to enable operational focus and strategy development," better align management responsibilities and increase transparency. But the Legend team — complete with its CEO, Yuan Xu, CSO Frank Fan, and a dozen senior execs — would still be consolidated under GenScript Group. Existing GenScript shareholders are expected to own a majority interest in Legend even after its US public debut.