Jim Tananbaum, Foresite

Fore­site re­turns to the SPAC well, as in­vestors won­der how long the run can last

Six months af­ter launch­ing his first biotech SPAC, Fore­site’s Jim Tanan­baum has start­ed a sec­ond. On Tues­day, the long­time life sci­ence in­vestor filed to raise $100 mil­lion by sell­ing 10 mil­lion shares of the blank check com­pa­ny FS de­vel­op­ment II.

It’s a quick re­turn to Wall Street for Fore­site, al­though oth­er firms have moved quick­er. Per­cep­tive Ad­vi­sors raised a $130 mil­lion SPAC in June and were back be­fore the end of Ju­ly to raise an­oth­er $125 mil­lion. By that point, the firm was ev­i­dent­ly near­ing a deal for the June SPAC, which would an­nounce a half-bil­lion-dol­lar merg­er with Cerev­el Ther­a­peu­tics on Ju­ly 30.

Tanan­baum sim­i­lar­ly man­aged to find a quick home for his first SPAC, merg­ing with the ge­net­ics-dri­ven eye dis­ease com­pa­ny Gem­i­ni Ther­a­peu­tics in a $216 mil­lion deal in Oc­to­ber. Bruce Booth, a part­ner at At­las Ven­ture, which helped launch Gem­i­ni, praised the deal at the time as the ar­che­type for a good SPAC tar­get: A com­pa­ny that hasn’t yet raised a crossover round but al­ready has an es­tab­lished pipeline that will gen­er­ate clin­i­cal da­ta.

The new S-1 of­fers few de­tails on Tanan­baum’s po­ten­tial tar­gets out­side of what’s be­come boil­er­plate lan­guage for life sci­ences SPACs. They’ll have two years to find a merg­er part­ner.

The new Fore­site of­fer­ing was one of two SPACs to file this week, join­ing the blunt­ly named Biotech Ac­qui­si­tion Corp. It was found­ed by Michael Shleifer, co-founder of SPRIM, which in­vests in and pro­vides ser­vices for CRO, health tech and oth­er life sci­ences and health­care com­pa­nies. Ac­cord­ing­ly, de­pend­ing on how you de­fine “biotech,” the SPAC’s ti­tle is a bit of a mis­nomer: They will al­so be look­ing at health tech and med­ical de­vice com­pa­nies for merg­ers.

Shleifer will look to raise even more than Fore­site, fil­ing for a $230 mil­lion of­fer.

Both firms, though, are fil­ing just as an­a­lysts be­gin to ques­tion how long the SPAC run can last. On Twit­ter, pri­vate in­vestor Brad Lon­car not­ed SPACs can be lu­cra­tive for VCs, cost­ing them just a few mil­lion dol­lars to bring pub­lic a com­pa­ny worth sev­er­al hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars.

Still, he won­dered, whether the num­ber of SPACs was out­pac­ing the num­ber of vi­able tar­get com­pa­nies.

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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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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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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Ryan Watts, Denali CEO

De­nali slips as a snap­shot of ear­ly da­ta rais­es some trou­bling ques­tions on its pi­o­neer­ing blood-brain bar­ri­er neu­ro work

Denali Therapeutics had drummed up considerable hype for their blood-brain barrier technology since launching over six years ago, hype that’s only intensified in the last 14 months following the publications of a pair of papers last spring and proof of concept data earlier this year. On Sunday, the South San Francisco-based biotech gave the biopharma world the next look at in-human data for its lead candidate in Hunter syndrome.

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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.

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.

Christophe Weber, Takeda CEO (Kyodo via AP Images)

Take­da flesh­es out CNS pact with pep­tide drug­mak­er, set­ting aside $3.5B in fu­ture mile­stones

One of a suite of drugmakers looking to reinvest in the neuroscience space, Takeda has been aggressive in signing on new partners to help build up its pipeline in that space. But sometimes the best partner is the one you already have.

Takeda will set aside $3.5 billion in future milestones and an undisclosed upfront payment to build out its drug discovery deal with Japanese peptide conjugate maker PeptiDream, adding neurodegeneration to the partnership’s list of CNS targets, the companies said Tuesday.

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Michael Henderson, BridgeBio CBO

Bris­tol My­ers Squibb catch­es the SHP2 wave in a new col­lab­o­ra­tion deal with Bridge­Bio

Once considered “undruggable,” the phosphatase enzyme SHP2 has seen recent interest from a suite of Big Pharmas, including AstraZeneca, Amgen, Novartis and Merck. Now Bristol Myers Squibb is getting in on the action, with a deal to pair its PD-1 superstar Opdivo with BridgeBio’s SHP2 inhibitor for difficult-to-treat cancers.

BMS and BridgeBio took the wraps off the non-exclusive, co-funded collaboration early Tuesday morning. The “catalyst,” BridgeBio CBO Michael Henderson said, was last year’s virtual JP Morgan conference, where the companies met to discuss early preclinical results they were seeing between SHP2 and immuno-oncology therapies.

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.