Roy Smythe, SomaLogic CEO

It's a brave new world for So­ma­Log­ic, as the pro­teomics biotech rides Eli Cas­d­in's newest SPAC to Nas­daq with $1.2B val­u­a­tion

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The bur­geon­ing field of pro­teomics has court­ed heavy in­vest­ment over the last few years, and on Mon­day a promi­nent pro­teomics biotech scored a new heap­ing of cap­i­tal.

So­ma­Log­ic an­nounced plans to re­verse-merge with Eli Cas­din and Kei­th Meis­ter’s sec­ond SPAC on Mon­day, dubbed CM Life Sci­ences II, fetch­ing the com­pa­ny a $1.23 bil­lion val­u­a­tion. The deal gives So­ma­Log­ic a cash in­fu­sion of $276 mil­lion from the SPAC’s IPO last month, as well as a pri­vate in­vest­ment of $375 mil­lion from a syn­di­cate of new and re­turn­ing in­vestors.

Once the merg­er clos­es some­time in the third quar­ter, the com­bined com­pa­ny will trade on the tick­er $SLGC.

Cas­din and Meis­ter had teamed up last sum­mer for their first blank check com­pa­ny, rais­ing what was then a mas­sive $385 mil­lion be­fore the SPAC flood­gates opened this year. Meis­ter, who is him­self a Carl Ic­ahn pro­tégé once viewed as the bil­lion­aire’s right-hand man, launched the SPAC in Au­gust 2020 and teamed up with Cas­din and his bio­phar­ma team.

The cash to­tal swelled to $443 mil­lion when the shell com­pa­ny an­nounced its in­tent to merge with Se­ma4 in Feb­ru­ary, giv­ing the J&J and Sanofi-part­nered pa­tient da­ta, test­ing and ge­nomics plat­form a $2 bil­lion val­u­a­tion. It was one of the largest life sci­ences SPAC deals to date as cash con­tin­ues to flow al­most un­fet­tered in­to SPACs.

Now the duo is back at it again with Mon­day’s So­ma­Log­ic agree­ment, bring­ing the Boul­der, CO-based biotech to Nas­daq. It’s one of a num­ber of biotechs look­ing to un­der­stand the hu­man body by look­ing at pro­teins, rather than DNA and RNA, and the deal comes just three months af­ter the com­pa­ny’s Se­ries A ex­ten­sion.

So­ma­Log­ic CEO Roy Smythe told End­points News that the “con­text” of the mar­ket helped fu­el their de­ci­sion to go pub­lic short­ly af­ter last year’s fundraise.

“We in­tend­ed on some time­line af­ter that Se­ries A to con­tem­plate a pub­lic tran­si­tion to think about when to do that,” Smythe told End­points. “We had been talk­ing about mak­ing a de­ci­sion pri­or to this, and the SPAC has some ad­van­tages de­pend­ing on your per­spec­tive as a com­pa­ny.”

With the merg­er, So­ma­Log­ic can now “dou­ble down” on its strat­e­gy of both col­lect­ing pro­teom­ic da­ta and cre­at­ing ap­pli­ca­tions for clin­i­cal tri­als us­ing that da­ta, Smythe added. The com­pa­ny says it has a to­tal of 20 val­i­dat­ed test­ing tools, known as So­maSig­nal, with an­oth­er 100 or so in de­vel­op­ment.

SPACs have trig­gered what’s be­come a gold rush on Wall Street, with more than $170 bil­lion poured in­to the hold­ing com­pa­nies so far this year. That’s al­ready eclipsed the fig­ure from all of 2020, Reuters re­port­ed last week, which hit $157 bil­lion.

That rush has on­ly brought in more mon­ey with a myr­i­ad of in­vestors try­ing to cap­i­tal­ize. There was the high-pro­file Richard Bran­son SPAC that merged with 23andMe in Feb­ru­ary, and Fore­site and Per­cep­tive, among oth­ers, have launched new blank check com­pa­nies in re­cent months.

The So­ma­Log­ic merg­er al­so comes 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

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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.