(Yicai Global) July 20 -- Chinese biotech startup Stemirna Therapeutics will halt trial production at the Shanghai factory where it planned to make messenger RNA Covid-19 vaccines from tomorrow because of poor demand.
“Due to major changes to the external environment, the trial operation of the factory will be suspended given the lack of future demand,” the Shanghai-based firm said in a statement sent to Yicai Global.
Stemirna’s mRNA Covid-19 jab was approved for clinical trials in China in April last year but never received marketing approval. The firm initially planned to build two facilities to produce 400 million doses of mRNA shots a year in Shanghai, but the second one has not been built yet.
After halting trial production at the plant, Stemirna will focus on the research and development of new products using mRNA technology, which has multiple applications across different fields, the company noted.
In hindsight, it was not a smart move to invest a lot of money to build the factory last year, as it will be shut down before commercial production even started, an industry insider told Yicai Global. On the other hand, Stemirna’s ongoing financing shows that mRNA technology has a lot of potential, especially for treating tumors, the person added.
One of Stemirna’s earlier investors is HongShan, formerly known as Sequoia Capital China. In 2021, it raised USD200 million to support the production and clinical trials of mRNA vaccines. The firm completed a pre-D financing round worth hundreds of millions of Chinese yuan (tens of millions of US dollars) in May. The proceeds will be used to advance its pipeline products, including oncology treatment and infectious disease vaccines.
Editors: Tang Shihua, Futura Costaglione