Eduardo Bravo (file photo)

Ed­uar­do Bra­vo re­turns to bring Eu­ro­pean biotech in on the SPAC splurge

The last year’s SPAC boom has been dom­i­nat­ed so far by US-based VCs. Now a promi­nent Eu­ro­pean biotech ex­ec­u­tive and a cou­ple in­vestors are get­ting in on the game.

Ed­uar­do Bra­vo, the Big Phar­ma alum and for­mer CEO of the cell ther­a­py com­pa­ny TiGenix, has launched Eu­ro­pean Biotech Ac­qui­si­tion. Based in Am­s­ter­dam (if a SPAC can be said to be based any­where be­sides the Cay­man Is­lands and Ama­zon Web Ser­vices), the new shell com­pa­ny will try to raise $100 mil­lion and use it to take a Eu­ro­pean biotech pub­lic with­in 2 years.

Al­though Bra­vo has tak­en a cou­ple board seats, the SPAC rep­re­sents his first ma­jor move since Take­da bought out TiGenix and their off-the-shelf stem cell tech­nol­o­gy for $600 mil­lion in 2018. Join­ing him are two man­ag­ing part­ners from Life Sci­ence Part­ners: Mar­ti­jn Klei­jwegt, who helped build the now Bio­Marin-owned biotech Pros­en­sa and a biotech that lat­er be­came J&J Vac­cines,  and Mark Wegter, who is on the board of Kiadis.

Bra­vo and LSP’s pitch to in­vestors is that Eu­ro­pean biotechs have been se­vere­ly un­der­val­ued, de­spite the fact that the pace of sci­en­tif­ic re­search and de­vel­op­ment on the con­ti­nent is on par with the pace in the US: Both ar­eas pro­duce a sim­i­lar num­ber of patents — a com­mon met­ric for so­ci­ol­o­gists mea­sur­ing sci­en­tif­ic ac­tiv­i­ty — but there’s four or five times less VC cash avail­able and val­u­a­tions are four to five times small­er.

There is al­so, they said, “ro­bust merg­er & ac­qui­si­tion trans­ac­tion vol­umes,” point­ing to where they might ul­ti­mate­ly want to see any com­pa­ny they merged with go. LSP’s re­cent ex­its in­clude the nat­ur­al killer cell com­pa­ny Nkar­ta, which went pub­lic for $289 mil­lion amid the IPO boom last year, and the au­toim­mune dis­ease biotech Im­mu­nic, which pulled off a re­verse merg­er in 2019.

Take­da, mean­while, sub­mit­ted TiGenix’s lead stem cell ther­a­py for ap­proval in Japan last week. Al­though OK’d in Eu­rope for Crohn’s dis­ease, it has yet to get FDA ap­proval.

At the In­flec­tion Point for the Next Gen­er­a­tion of Can­cer Im­munother­a­py

While oncology researchers have long pursued the potential of cellular immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer, it was unclear whether these therapies would ever reach patients due to the complexity of manufacturing and costs of development. Fortunately, the recent successful development and regulatory approval of chimeric antigen receptor-engineered T (CAR-T) cells have demonstrated the significant benefit of these therapies to patients.

All about Omi­cron; We need more Covid an­tivi­rals; GSK snags Pfiz­er’s vac­cine ex­ec; Janet Wood­cock’s fu­ture at FDA; and more

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Lisa Deschamps, AviadoBio CEO

Ex-No­var­tis busi­ness head hops over to a gene ther­a­py start­up — and she's reeled in $80M for a dash to the clin­ic

Neurologist and King’s College London professor Christopher Shaw has been researching neurodegenerative diseases like ALS and collaborating with drugmakers for the last 25 years in the hopes of pushing new therapies forward. But unfortunately, none of those efforts have come anywhere close to fruition.

“So, you know, after 20 years in the game, I said, ‘Let’s try and do it ourselves,’” he told Endpoints News. 

Merck's new antiviral molnupiravir (Quality Stock Arts / Shutterstock)

As Omi­cron spread looms, oral an­tivi­rals ap­pear to be one of the best de­fens­es — now we just need more

After South African scientists reported a new Covid-19 variant — dubbed Omicron by the WHO — scientists became concerned about how effective vaccines and monoclonal antibodies might be against it, which has more than 30 mutations in the spike protein.

“I think it is super worrisome,” Dartmouth professor and Adagio co-founder and CEO Tillman Gerngross told Endpoints News this weekend. Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel echoed similar concerns, telling the Financial Times that experts warned him, “This is not going to be good.”

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Radek Spisek, Sotio CEO (Cellestia)

A qui­et Czech biotech bags $315M to dri­ve its blos­som­ing can­cer pipeline through the clin­ic

In the rather insular world of biotech, most innovation inevitably comes from a cluster of R&D hubs — Cambridge, San Francisco, etc. But sometimes success stories sprout from rocky soil, which is most certainly the case with Prague-based Sotio Biotech and its suddenly jam-packed pipeline of cancer drugs.

After years in quiet development, Sotio now has $315 million in new funds to play with from parent company PPF Group, an investment group founded in the Czech Republic, as the biotech looks to advance its growing pipeline through early- and mid-stage trials.

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In­cor­po­rat­ing Ex­ter­nal Da­ta in­to Clin­i­cal Tri­als: Com­par­ing Dig­i­tal Twins to Ex­ter­nal Con­trol Arms

Most drug development professionals are familiar with the nerve-racking wait for the read-out of a large trial. If it’s negative, is the investigational therapy ineffective? Or could the failure result from an unforeseen flaw in the design or execution of the protocol, rather than a lack of efficacy? The team could spend weeks analyzing data, but a definitive answer may be elusive due to insufficient power for such analyses in the already completed trial. These problems are only made worse if the trial had lower enrollment, or higher dropout than expected due to an unanticipated event like COVID-19. And if a trial is negative, the next one is likely to be larger and more costly — if it happens at all.

Ab­b­Vie tacks on a new warn­ing to Rin­voq la­bel as safe­ty frets crimp JAK class

The safety problems that continue to plague the JAK class as new data highlight some severe side effects are casting a large shadow over AbbVie’s Rinvoq.

As a result of a recent readout highlighting major adverse cardiac events (MACE), malignancy, mortality and thrombosis with Xeljanz a couple of months ago, AbbVie put out a notice late Friday afternoon that it is adding the new class risks to its label for their rival drug.

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Biospec­i­men M&A: Dis­cov­ery ac­quires Al­bert Li's he­pa­to­cyte project; PhI­II tri­al on Bay­er's Nube­qa reached pri­ma­ry end­point

Discovery Life Sciences has acquired what claims to be the Maryland-based host of the world’s largest hepatocyte inventory, known as IVAL, to help researchers select more effective and safer drug candidates in the future.

The combined companies will now serve a wider range of drug research and development scientists, according to Albert Li, who founded IVAL in 2004 and is set to join the Discovery leadership team as the CSO of pharmacology and toxicology.

Pfiz­er, Am­gen and Janssen seek fur­ther clar­i­ty on FDA's new ben­e­fit-risk guid­ance

Three top biopharma companies are seeking more details from the FDA on how the agency conducts its benefit-risk assessments for new drugs and biologics.

While Pfizer, Amgen and Janssen praised the agency for further spelling out its thinking on the subject in a new draft guidance, including a discussion of patient experience data as part of the assessment, the companies said the FDA could’ve included more specifics in the 20-page draft document.

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