HONG KONG — In November 2014, a little less than six years ago, Chinese scientist Jingwu Zang set up his own drug company, Third Venture Biopharma. The former head of China R&D for GlaxoSmithKline wanted to develop innovative biologics that can treat various cancers and autoimmune diseases.

A domestic merger, a slew of in-licensing deals, and a Nasdaq listing later, the Shanghai-based biotech — now called I-Mab Biopharma — is hanging on to one of its self-discovered drug assets, a highly coveted anti-CD47 monoclonal antibody, as its ticket into a global race for the next class of promising cancer immunotherapies.

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