DURHAM – Brii Biosciences, a startup based in Shanghai, China and Durham, has acquired $260 million in committed venture-backing to deliver breakthrough medicines to China.

Backers include ARCH Venture Partners, 6 Dimensions Capital, Boyu Capital, Yunfeng Capital, and Blue Pool Capital. James Klein, interim chief financial officer, previously served as CFO at a number of other biotech firms, including Triangle Pharmaceuticals. Clay Thorp, general partner of NC-based Hatteras Venture Partners, is on the company’s board of advisors.

Brii Biosciences (Brii Bio) is a company committed to serving patients’ needs and improving public health in China. Founded in early 2018 with operations in the People’s Republic of China and the United States, the company focuses on accelerating innovation and optimizing access to the latest medicines for Chinese patients. The company’s focus is treatments for chronic illnesses with significant burdens, including infectious diseases, liver and lung diseases, and other illnesses.

The company has inked a partnership deal with San Francisco-based Vir Bio, that grants Brii Bio options on exclusive greater China rights for up to four assets in Vir’s portfolio. This therapeutic pipeline holds the potential to prevent, treat and cure a wide range of infectious diseases.

“China faces significant medical needs in the prevention, treatment, and cure of serious infectious diseases, yet presents challenges for pharmaceutical innovation,” said Vir CEO George Scangos, Ph.D. “Brii Bio combines a highly successful leadership team, clinical skills, and understanding of Chinese medical and cultural needs.”

It also has what it calls a “first-of-its-kind digital and data insight partnership with AliHealth,” the healthcare arm of Alibaba Group to collaborate and explore disruptive approaches to optimize clinical and commercial development efforts by capturing value evidence and improving patients’ experience with new therapies. This partnership will also explore ways to accelerate the uptake of new medicines and support appropriate use of new medicines.

“Only by providing better healthcare solutions and broader access to innovative medicines can we deliver real benefits to more patients,” said AliHealth Chairman Eddie Wu. “The partnership between AliHealth and Brii Bio can bring our cutting edge consumer platforms and digital data capabilities to optimizing the life cycle of medicine discovery, development, and delivery. With improved efficiency, we will deliver more affordable and patient friendlier innovations to China.”

“The pace of innovation has accelerated over the past decade, resulting in dramatically better treatments and cures for life-threatening diseases, but the reach of those innovations in China has been limited,” said Co-founder, President, and CEO. Zhi Hong, PhD, in a statement.

“Delivering innovative medicines to Chinese patients constitutes not just a market opportunity but an opportunity to significantly improve public health. China needs faster, affordable access to new therapies, and has the public health infrastructure and advanced digital and data technologies to enable that at scale.” Hong was previously senior vice president and head of the infectious diseases therapy unit at GlaxoSmithKline.