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.

How Pa­tients with Epilep­sy Ben­e­fit from Re­al-World Da­ta

Amanda Shields, Principal Data Scientist, Scientific Data Steward

Keith Wenzel, Senior Business Operations Director

Andy Wilson, Scientific Lead

Real-world data (RWD) has the potential to transform the drug development industry’s efforts to predict and treat seizures for patients with epilepsy. Anticipating or controlling an impending seizure can significantly increase quality of life for patients with epilepsy. However, because RWD is secondary data originally collected for other purposes, the challenge is selecting, harmonizing, and analyzing the data from multiple sources in a way that helps support patients.

$DNA is once again on NYSE; FDA clears Soliris chal­lenger for the mar­ket; Flag­ship’s think­ing big again with eR­NA; 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.

I still remember the uncertainty in the air last year when nobody was sure whether ASCO would cancel their in-person meeting. But it’s now back again for the second virtual conference, and Endpoints News is here for it. Check out our 2-day event reviewing the landscape of cancer R&D and send news our way.

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Michael Dell (Richard Drew, AP Images)

'Dude, you're get­ting a Del­l' — as a new deep-pock­et biotech in­vestor

What happens when you marry longtime insiders in the global biotech VC game with the family fund of tech billionaire Michael Dell, a synthetic biology legend out of MIT and Harvard and the former director of the NCI?

Today, the answer is a newly financed, $200 million biotech SPAC now cruising the industry for a top player interested in finding a short cut to Nasdaq.

Orion Biotech Opportunities priced their blank check company today, raising $200 million with Dell’s multibillion-dollar MSD group’s commitment on investing another $20 million in a forward-purchase agreement.

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Gene ther­a­py from Bio­gen's $800M buy­out flops in mid-stage study, deal­ing blow to new am­bi­tions

The #2 candidate from Biogen’s $800 million ocular gene therapy buyout has failed in a mid-stage trial, dealing an early blow to the big biotech’s plans to revitalize its pipeline with new technologies.

Biogen announced that the candidate, an experimental treatment for a rare and progressive form of blindness called X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP), failed to sufficiently improve vision in patients’ treated eye — patients only received an injection in one eye — after a year, on a standard scale, compared to their untreated eye. The company said they saw “positive trends” on several secondary endpoints, including visual acuity, but declined to say whether the trial actually hit any of those endpoints.

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Vas Narasimhan (Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis whiffs on En­tresto study af­ter heart at­tacks — but that does­n't mean it's go­ing down qui­et­ly

If Novartis learned one thing from its interaction with the FDA over its latest heart failure approval for Entresto, it was that missing a primary endpoint may not be the nail in the coffin. Now, Entresto has missed again on a late-stage study in high-risk heart patients, and it’s already sowing the seeds for a path forward regardless.

Novartis’ Entresto couldn’t best standard-of-care ramipril in staving off a composite of deaths and heart failure events in patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction and/or pulmonary congestion who have had a prior heart attack, according to topline data from the Phase III PARADISE-MI study revealed Saturday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.

Jason Kelly (Photographer: Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Gink­go nabs $DNA, biotech's most sought af­ter tick­er, for free in sweet­en­er from NYSE

When Ginkgo went comparison shopping for a financial market to list their now $15 billion company, the New York Stock Exchange had a back-pocket sweetener the Nasdaq couldn’t offer: The most sought-after ticker in biotech, $DNA.

DNA — the most famous three letters in biology and the ticker for the world’s first biotech, Genentech, from 1999 until it was bought out by Roche for $48 billion in 2009 — will now be the ticker for Ginkgo, a 12-year-old synthetic biology startup with grand ambitions to change not only how drugs, but also everyday products like meat and perfumes, are made.

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Lark­spur Health Ac­qui­si­tion files to go pub­lic as this year's SPAC flood surges over $14B

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

Another day, another SPAC vying for a spot on Nasdaq.

On Wednesday, OncoSec Medical CEO Daniel O’Connor filed the S-1 paperwork for a new blank-check company he’s leading called Larkspur Health Acquisition. The former Advaxis chief penciled in a $75 million raise, with plans to offer 7.5 million shares at $10 apiece.

BAR­DA slows its $9B en­gine for new Covid-19 ther­a­peu­tics

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority is cooling its jets in looking for new, potential Covid-19 treatments, at least in the near term.

An HHS spokesperson told Endpoints News via email, “to date, BARDA has obligated more than $9 billion for the development and/or purchase of 13 therapeutics, beginning in February 2020 with support to develop Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody therapeutic. Therapeutics are an important element of the COVID-19 response, and we are focused on the programs currently underway and/or in negotiation using the funds available to us.”

Bris­tol My­ers backs up its case for heart drug mava­camten as FDA weighs app in car­diomy­opa­thy

When Bristol Myers Squibb signed off on its $13 billion acquisition of MyoKardia back in October, it was making a big bet that lead drug mavacamten could prove a game changer in cardiac myopathy. Now, with the drug up for FDA review, Bristol Myers is backing up its case with new quality of life data.

Patients dosed with myosin inhibitor mavacamten posted a clinically significant increase in scores on the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire, a catch-all summary of symptoms and quality of life markers, over placebo at 30 weeks, according to data from the Phase III EXPLORER-HCM study presented Saturday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.