Keith Meister (Adam Jeffery/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)

Eli Cas­din and Kei­th Meis­ter dive back in­to the SPAC well with $480M haul just weeks af­ter So­ma­Log­ic re­verse merg­er

Wall Street’s SPAC at­tack con­tin­ued Wednes­day, with two more high-pro­file blank check com­pa­nies pric­ing their IPOs.

Eli Cas­din

Eli Cas­din and Kei­th Meis­ter’s third SPAC hopped to Nas­daq with a mas­sive $480 mil­lion haul, and Oleg Nodel­man’s sec­ond hold­ing com­pa­ny de­buted with a $150 mil­lion raise. Both SPACs sig­nal that the blank check field in 2021, which eclipsed all of last year’s to­tal SPAC raise across the fi­nan­cial sec­tor with­in the first quar­ter, re­mains at full steam ahead.

The Cas­din and Meis­ter ef­fort, known as CM Life Sci­ences III, comes just a few weeks af­ter their sec­ond SPAC an­nounced its in­tent to merge with So­ma­Log­ic, one of a num­ber of pro­teomics biotechs look­ing to un­der­stand the hu­man body by look­ing at pro­teins rather than DNA and RNA. That deal net­ted the com­pa­ny a val­u­a­tion north of $1.2 bil­lion.

Go­ing pub­lic through the quick­er SPAC route al­lowed So­ma­Log­ic to “dou­ble down” on its strat­e­gy of both col­lect­ing pro­teom­ic da­ta and cre­at­ing ap­pli­ca­tions for clin­i­cal tri­als us­ing that da­ta, CEO Roy Smythe told End­points News at the time.

Cas­din and Meis­ter have gone all in on SPACs since last sum­mer. We’re still on­ly sev­en months out from the an­nounce­ment of their first SPAC back in Sep­tem­ber, which at the time marked one of the biggest blank-check tar­gets ever at $385 mil­lion. Its haul swelled to $450 mil­lion when the re­verse merg­er with Se­ma4 was an­nounced in Feb­ru­ary.

Short­ly af­ter­ward, the sec­ond CM Life Sci­ences SPAC made its splash too, pric­ing the same month as the Se­ma4 deal and quick­ly be­com­ing So­ma­Log­ic’s ve­hi­cle to Nas­daq.

Oleg Nodel­man

For Nodel­man’s team, Panacea II is the sec­ond blank check com­pa­ny to go pub­lic since his Ecor1 firm launched its first in June 2020. The shell found a part­ner quite quick­ly, agree­ing to take David Hung’s Nu­va­tion Bio pub­lic last Oc­to­ber, with the pair com­plet­ing their merg­er in Feb­ru­ary.

Among the promi­nent SPACs that have filed or merged so far in 2021 in­clude Fore­site and Per­cep­tive, who both an­nounced their lat­est SPACs in ear­ly Feb­ru­ary. Oth­ers like Khosla Ven­tures and Ed­uar­do Bra­vo al­so joined the par­ty with SPACs of their own.

Then, Ra­jiv Shuk­la — one of the first in­vestors to hop on board the biotech SPAC train — launched his third such com­pa­ny. Shuk­la took his first SPAC pub­lic back in 2017 be­fore the cur­rent groundswell of blank check com­pa­nies.

To top it all off is Richard Bran­son’s SPAC an­nounc­ing its merg­er with di­ag­nos­tics and an­ces­try com­pa­ny 23andMe, an ef­fort that would be used to fur­ther the firm’s drug de­vel­op­ment busi­ness af­ter it part­nered with GSK in 2018 for $300 mil­lion.

Wednes­day’s new SPACs come short­ly af­ter the SEC opened an in­quiry in­to how Wall Street banks are man­ag­ing their risks in the blank check deals, ask­ing fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions to vol­un­tar­i­ly pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about how they’re in­ter­nal­ly polic­ing SPACs.

Ugur Sahin, BioNTech CEO (Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP Images)

BioN­Tech is spear­head­ing an mR­NA vac­cine de­vel­op­ment pro­gram for malar­ia, with a tech trans­fer planned for Africa

Flush with the success of its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, BioNTech is now gearing up for one of the biggest challenges in vaccine development — which comes without potential profit.

The German mRNA pioneer says it plans to work on a jab for malaria, then transfer the tech to the African continent, where it will work with partners on developing the manufacturing ops needed to make this and other vaccines.

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How one start­up fore­told the neu­ro­science re­nais­sance af­ter '50 years of shit­show'

In the past couple of years, something curious has happened: Pharma and VC dollars started gushing into neuroscience research.

Biogen’s controversial new Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm has been approved on the basis of removing amyloid plaque from the brain, but the new neuro-focused pharma and biotechs have much loftier aims. Significantly curbing or even curing the most notorious disorders would prove the Holy Grail for a complex system that has tied the world’s best drug developers in knots for decades.

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Why is On­col­o­gy Drug De­vel­op­ment Re­search Late to the Dig­i­tal Bio­mark­ers Game?

During the recent Annual ASCO Meeting, thousands of cancer researchers and clinicians from across the globe joined together virtually to present and discuss the latest findings and breakthroughs in cancer research and care. There were more than 5000+ scientific abstracts presented during this event, yet only a handful involved the use of motion-tracking wearables to collect digital measures relating to activity, sleep, mobility, functional status, and/or quality of life. Although these results were a bit disappointing, they should come as no surprise to those of us in the wearable technology field.

Bob Bradway, Amgen CEO (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Am­gen bel­lies back up to the M&A ta­ble for an­oth­er biotech buy­out, this time with a $2.5B deal for an an­ti­body play­er fo­cused on PS­MA

Five months after Amgen CEO Bob Bradway stepped up to the M&A table and acquired Five Prime for $1.9 billion, following up with the smaller Rodeo acquisition, he’s gone back in for another biotech buyout.

This time around, Amgen is paying $900 million cash while committing up to $1.6 billion in milestones to bag the privately held Teneobio, an antibody drug developer that has expertise in developing new bispecifics and multispecifics. In addition, Amgen cited Teneobio’s “T-cell engager platform, which expands on Amgen’s existing leadership position in bispecific T-cell engagers by providing a differentiated, but complementary, approach to Amgen’s current BiTE platform.”

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Art Levinson (Calico)

Google-backed Cal­i­co dou­bles down on an­ti-ag­ing R&D pact with Ab­b­Vie as part­ners ante up $1B, start to de­tail drug tar­gets

Seven years after striking up a major R&D alliance, AbbVie and Google-backed anti-aging specialist Calico are doubling down on their work with a joint, $1 billion commitment to continuing their work together. And they’re also beginning to offer some details on where this project is taking them in the clinic.

According to their statement, each of the two players is putting up $500 million more to keep the labs humming.

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Andrea Pfeifer, AC Immune CEO (AC Immune)

Look­ing to repli­cate Covid-19 suc­cess in neu­ro, BioN­Tech back­ers bet on AC Im­mune and its new­ly-ac­quired Parkin­son's vac­cine

The German billionaires behind BioNTech have found a new vaccine project to back.

Through their family office Athos Service, twin brothers Thomas and Andreas Strüngmann are leading a $25 million private placement into Switzerland’s AC Immune — which concurrently announced that it’s shelling out $58.7 million worth of stock to acquire Affiris’ portfolio of therapies targeting alpha-synuclein, including a vaccine candidate, for Parkinson’s disease.

Rajiv Shukla, Constellation Alpha Holdings

Can­del gets busy IPO week mov­ing with down­sized raise as Ra­jiv Shuk­la's third SPAC goes pub­lic

Editor’s note: Interested in following biopharma’s fast-paced IPO market? You can bookmark our IPO Tracker here.

In a week that’s expected to see several biotechs price their IPOs, Candel Therapeutics got things kicked off Tuesday with a muted opener.

The company helmed by former GlaxoSmithKline vet Paul Peter Tak made its way to Nasdaq thanks to a $72 million raise, which was downsized by about 15% than originally anticipated, according to Renaissance Capital. Candel priced at $8 per share after initially seeking to launch in the $13 to $15 range.

Busi­ness­es and schools can man­date the use of Covid-19 vac­cines un­der EUAs, DOJ says

As public and private companies stare down the reality of the Delta variant, many are now requiring that their employees or students be vaccinated against Covid-19 prior to attending school or to returning or starting a new job. Claims that such mandates are illegal or cannot be used for vaccines under emergency use authorizations have now been dismissed.

Setting the record straight, the Department of Justice on Monday called the mandates legal in a new memo, even when used for people with vaccines that remain subject to EUAs.

Gerry Brunk (Lumira)

What will Lu­mi­ra Ven­tures do with $220M? Stay out of the com­fort zone and off the beat­en biotech path

Lumira Ventures closed its largest fund on Monday, raking in $220 million to pump into the life sciences — but instead of targeting biotech hubs like San Francisco and Boston, the company is rolling the dice on “underserved geographies” in the US and Canada.

“We find oftentimes companies located in places like Montreal, or Fort Lauderdale, FL, or Kansas City or Phoenix, AZ just have more capital efficiency and better valuations, without having to compromise anything at all in the quality of the innovation and the management talent,” co-founder and managing partner Gerry Brunk told Endpoints News.