Someit Sidhu, JATT (Pathios Therapeutics)

An­oth­er life sci­ences SPAC has popped up from a small biotech CEO with the help of Take­da, No­var­tis vet­er­ans

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The SPAC train has slowed down since the ex­tra­or­di­nar­i­ly high lev­els from late 2020 in­to ear­ly this year, but Tues­day saw the fil­ing of a new blank-check com­pa­ny tar­get­ing the life sci­ences in­dus­try.

Tauhid Ali

JATT Ac­qui­si­tion sub­mit­ted its SEC pa­per­work Tues­day, pen­cil­ing in an es­ti­mat­ed raise of $120 mil­lion as it sets its sights on a re­verse merg­er part­ner. The SPAC is run by Someit Sid­hu, a co-founder of Pathios Ther­a­peu­tics, as well as CEO of Akaza Bio­science and Izana Bio­science. Sid­hu will con­trol about 97% of the blank-check com­pa­ny’s shares, per the S-1.

Join­ing Sid­hu on the team are Tauhid Ali, a for­mer Take­da vet who launched three biotechs out of the phar­ma’s in­cu­ba­tor, and Arnout Ploos van Am­s­tel, for­mer head of No­var­tis’ im­munol­o­gy, he­pa­tol­ogy and der­ma­tol­ogy fran­chis­es.

Per the End­points News SPAC tal­ly, there have now been 44 blank check com­pa­nies to file, price or an­nounce a merg­er in biotech and life sci­ences. The com­bined raise has steered near­ly $15 bil­lion to the in­dus­try.

Arnout Ploos van Am­s­tel

Com­pared with some of the oth­er SPACs out there, Sid­hu is a rel­a­tive­ly un­known play­er. He doesn’t have the name recog­ni­tion of some­one like Richard Bran­son, Eli Cas­din or Vin­od Khosla, nor the os­ten­si­ble cult fol­low­ing of “SPAC King” and ear­ly Face­book ex­ec­u­tive Chamath Pal­i­hapi­tiya.

What he does have, at least ac­cord­ing to the SEC fil­ing, is ex­pe­ri­ence at the con­sult­ing firm McK­in­sey where he cut his teeth ad­vis­ing un­named glob­al phar­ma com­pa­nies. He al­so holds a de­gree from Ox­ford Med­ical School with an em­pha­sis on car­di­ol­o­gy and gen­er­al surgery.

Sid­hu’s two biotechs — whose web­sites, for what­ev­er rea­son, are near­ly iden­ti­cal — are part­nered with Take­da and the UK gov­ern­ment’s in­no­va­tion agency. Akaza is aim­ing to bring an old Take­da com­pound through clin­i­cal tri­als for the treat­ment of acute-on-chron­ic liv­er fail­ure, while Izana is push­ing an­oth­er for­mer Take­da pro­gram in Covid-19 and rheuma­toid arthri­tis.

For Izana specif­i­cal­ly, the strat­e­gy is at­tempt­ing to bring a failed pro­gram back to life. Take­da ter­mi­nat­ed a 2015 clin­i­cal tri­al for the can­di­date in ques­tion, namilum­ab, af­ter try­ing to eval­u­ate it for RA. Izana swooped in with a li­cens­ing deal in 2017, giv­ing Take­da an eq­ui­ty stake in ex­change for world­wide rights.

The new SPAC con­tains much of the same boil­er­plate lan­guage seen through­out the in­dus­try, though there are men­tions of a fo­cus on ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and “mech­a­nis­tic ge­net­ics” with­in the S-1. As with any blank check com­pa­ny, Sid­hu will have two years to find a part­ner to com­plete the re­verse merg­er.

Though the glut of SPACs has slowed, the in­dus­try is start­ing to see more move­ment on the merg­er front. Nine biotechs have an­nounced re­verse merg­ers in the sec­ond quar­ter, rang­ing from big deals like Roivant and Gink­go Bioworks to small­er play­ers in Bet­ter Ther­a­peu­tics.

Ap­petite from reg­u­la­tors has al­so bit­ten in­to the hype in re­cent months, with the SEC an­nounc­ing it would be vol­un­tar­i­ly re­quest­ing in­fo from large banks over how they’re in­ter­nal­ly polic­ing blank-check in­vest­ment. The move fol­lowed a swath of celebri­ties get­ting in­to the SPAC ac­tion ear­li­er this year, in­clud­ing mu­si­cians Jay-Z and Cia­ra and star ath­letes Alex Ro­driguez, Shaquille O’Neal and Ser­e­na Williams.

Adap­tive De­sign Meth­ods Of­fer Rapid, Seam­less Tran­si­tion Be­tween Study Phas­es in Rare Can­cer Tri­als

Rare cancers account for 22 percent of cancer diagnoses worldwide, yet there is no universally accepted definition for a “rare” cancer. Moreover, with the evolution of genomics and associated changes in categorizing tumors, some common cancers are now characterized into groups of rare cancers, each with a unique implication for patient management and therapy.

Adaptive designs, which allow for prospectively planned modifications to study design based on accumulating data from subjects in the trial, can be used to optimize rare oncology trials (see Figure 1). Adaptive design studies may include multiple cohorts and multiple tumor types. In addition, numerous adaptation methods may be used in a single trial and may facilitate a more rapid, seamless transition between study phases.

Matt Gline (L) and Pete Salzmann

UP­DAT­ED: Roivant bumps stake in Im­muno­vant with a $200M deal. But with M&A off the ta­ble, shares crater

Roivant has worked out a deal to pick up a chunk of stock in its majority-owned sub Immunovant $IMVT, but the stock buy falls far short of its much-discussed thoughts about buying out all of the 43% of shares it doesn’t already own.

Roivant, which recently inked a SPAC move to the market at a $7 billion-plus valuation, has forged a deal to boost its ownership in Immunovant by 6.3 points, ending with 63.8% of the biotech’s stock following a $200 million injection. That cash will bolster Immunovant’s cash reserves, giving it a $600 million war chest to fund a slate of late-stage studies for its big drug: the anti-FcRn antibody IMVT-1401.

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Sanofi preps a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar buy­out of an mR­NA pi­o­neer af­ter falling be­hind in the race for a Covid-19 jab — re­port

It looks like Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson is dead serious about his intention to vault directly into contention for the future of mRNA vaccines.

A year after paying Translate Bio a whopping $425 million in an upfront and equity payment to help guide the pharma giant to the promised land of mRNA vaccines for Covid-19, Sanofi is reportedly ready to close the deal with a buyout.

Translate’s stock $TBIO soared 78% after the market closed Monday. A spokesperson for Sanofi declined to comment on the report, telling Endpoints News that the company doesn’t comment on market rumors.

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Anthony Sun, Zentalis and Zentera CEO (Zentalis)

With clin­i­cal tri­als lined up for Zen­tal­is drugs, Chi­na's Zen­tera sets its sights on more deal­mak­ing and an IPO

As Zentalis geared up for an AACR presentation of early data on its WEE1 inhibitor earlier this year, its Chinese joint venture Zentera wasn’t idle, either.

Zentera, which has headquarters in Shanghai, had already nabbed clearance to start clinical trials in China for three of the parent company’s drugs. In May — just a month after Zentalis touted three “exceptional responses” out of 55 patients for their shared lead drug, ZN-c3 — it got a fourth CTA approval.

Thomas Soloway, T-knife CEO

What hap­pens when you give a mouse a hu­man self-anti­gen? In­vestors bet $110M to find out

T-knife Therapeutics launched last August on a mission to isolate T cell receptors not from human donors, but from mice. Now, with a new CEO and a candidate bound for the clinic, the Versant-backed company is reloading with a fresh $110 million.

“What we are trying to do for the field of TCR therapy and solid tumor therapy is very analogous to what the murine platforms have done in antibody development,” CEO Thomas Soloway told Endpoints News. 

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UP­DAT­ED: Watch out Glax­o­SmithK­line: As­traZeneca's once-failed lu­pus drug is now ap­proved

Capping a roller coaster journey, AstraZeneca has steered its lupus drug anifrolumab across the finish line.

Saphnelo, as the antibody will be marketed, is the only treatment that’s been approved for systemic lupus erythematosus since GlaxoSmithKline’s Benlysta clinched an OK in 2011. The British drugmaker notes it’s also the first to target the type I interferon receptor.

Mirroring the population that the drug was tested on in late-stage trials, regulators sanctioned it for patients with moderate to severe cases who are already receiving standard therapy — setting up a launch planned for the end of August, according to Ruud Dobber, who’s in charge of AstraZeneca’s biopharmaceuticals business unit.

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Not all mR­NA vac­cines are cre­at­ed equal. Does it mat­ter?; Neu­ro is back; Pri­vate M&A af­fair; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

As part of our broader and deeper drive, Endpoints has been pairing webinars with our special reports to cover more angles on a given topic. In conjunction with Max Gelman’s neuroscience feature, Kyle Blankenship moderated an insightful panel to discuss where the field is headed. You can register to watch it on demand here.

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Bris­tol My­ers pulls lym­phoma in­di­ca­tion for Is­to­dax af­ter con­fir­ma­to­ry tri­al falls flat

Amid an industrywide review of cancer drugs with accelerated approval, Bristol Myers Squibb had to make the tough call last month to yank an approval for leading I/O drug Opdivo after flopping a confirmatory study. Now, a second Bristol Myers drug is on the chopping block.

Bristol Myers has pulled aging HDAC inhibitor Istodax’s indication in peripheral T cell lymphoma after a Phase III confirmatory study for the drug flopped on its progression-free survival endpoint, the drugmaker said Monday.

Rick Pazdur (via AACR)

FDA's on­col­o­gy head Rick Paz­dur de­fends the ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval path­way, claim­ing it is 'un­der at­tack'

The FDA is sounding the alarm over its accelerated approval pathway as backlash continues over the recent nod in favor of Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm, and an ODAC meeting on six such approvals that could potentially be pulled from the market — two of which already have.

“Do you think accelerated approval is under attack? I do,” Rick Pazdur, head of FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence, said at a Friends of Cancer Research webinar on Thursday.

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