Bill Lis, Jasper Therapeutics

Jasper and its stem cell con­di­tion­ing an­ti­body earn a tick­et to Nas­daq in lat­est SPAC re­verse merg­er

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

An­oth­er biotech SPAC deal has land­ed as the glut of blank-check com­pa­nies con­tin­ues to make waves in the in­dus­try.

Thurs­day’s win­ner is Jasper Ther­a­peu­tics, join­ing forces with Am­pli­tude Health­care Ac­qui­si­tion Corp. in a $100 mil­lion re­verse-merg­er, Jasper an­nounced. The deal al­so comes with a PIPE fi­nanc­ing of an ad­di­tion­al $100 mil­lion, set­ting Jasper up with a $490 mil­lion mar­ket cap once the merg­er clos­es in the third quar­ter.

Funds from the SPAC will be used to ad­vance Jasper’s an­ti-CD117 an­ti­body and their stem cell plat­form, CEO Bill Lis said in a state­ment.

Orig­i­nal­ly launched out of Stan­ford in late 2019, Jasper’s main fo­cus has been around that an­ti­body, which it’s de­vel­op­ing as a con­di­tion­ing agent for all sorts of stem cell trans­plants in or­der to make the pro­ce­dures safer and more ac­ces­si­ble. The com­pa­ny had re­ceived $35 mil­lion as part of that Se­ries A thanks to the dis­cov­ery of a Stan­ford grad stu­dent show­ing an eas­i­er way to de­plete stem cells in mice be­fore trans­plan­ta­tion.

Stan­ford sci­en­tist Ju­dith Shizu­ru then helped turn that dis­cov­ery in­to the an­ti­body around which Jasper has spent so much ef­fort. It al­so led Jasper to see whether or not oth­er com­pa­nies had start­ed look­ing at this type of pro­ce­dure in hu­mans, lead­ing them to a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Am­gen. Rather than us­ing chemother­a­py or ra­di­a­tion to re­move old stem cells, the pro­gram works by re­duc­ing stem cells from with­in their hard-to-reach pock­ets in the bone mar­row.

Ear­li­er this year, Jasper’s lead pro­gram JSP191 re­port­ed pre­lim­i­nary da­ta from an open-la­bel Phase I study. In six pa­tients aged 65 to 74 with myelodys­plas­tic syn­dromes or acute myeloid leukemia that are un­der­go­ing blood cell trans­plan­ta­tion, all in­di­vid­u­als showed suc­cess­ful en­graft­ment of the stem cells, Jasper said in Feb­ru­ary.

Re­searchers al­so saw donor myeloid chimerism of at least 95% in five of six evalu­able pa­tients at 28 days. Three of the five al­so showed that resid­ual dis­ease could not be found, in­di­cat­ing a “com­plete erad­i­ca­tion,” Jasper said at the time.

Jasper’s merg­er is the eighth an­nounced SPAC deal so far in 2021, per the End­points News tal­ly, and the sec­ond this week af­ter Vivek Ra­maswamy’s Roivant took Jim Mom­tazee’s blank check com­pa­ny to Nas­daq in a $611 mil­lion deal. In ad­di­tion to those eight, there have been an­oth­er 31 SPACs fo­cused on health­care to go pub­lic this year, look­ing for a biotech ready to make the pub­lic leap.

Health­care SPACs in 2021 got start­ed with a bang when Richard Bran­son’s blank-check out­fit said it would merge with 23andMe, the com­pa­ny known for its cot­ton-swab an­ces­try pro­gram. 23andMe, how­ev­er, has made a piv­ot to­ward drug de­vel­op­ment in re­cent years af­ter part­ner­ing with Glax­o­SmithK­line, and is seek­ing to use some of the SPAC funds to boost those ef­forts.

Af­ter 23andMe came deals for Se­ma4, So­ma­Log­ic, Bet­ter Ther­a­peu­tics, Tan­go Ther­a­peu­tics and Sur­rozen, fol­lowed up by Roivant on Mon­day. The com­bined cash raised among all SPACs in 2021 that have priced or an­nounced their in­tents to merge is ap­proach­ing $11.5 bil­lion with Jasper’s Thurs­day deal.

Am­pli­tude Health­care Ac­qui­si­tion Corp. comes from the syn­di­cate led by Howard Hof­fen, CEO of in­de­pen­dent VC firm Metal­mark, and Bala Venkatara­man, found­ing part­ner of Avego since 2014.

In­side Track: Be­hind the Scenes of a Ma­jor Biotech SPAC

Dr. David Hung and Michelle Doig are no strangers to the SPAC phenomenon. As Founder and CEO of Nuvation Bio, a biotech company tackling some of the greatest unmet needs in oncology, Dr. Hung recently took the company public in one of this year’s biggest SPAC related deals. And as Partner at Omega Funds, Doig not only led and syndicated Nuvation Bio’s Series A, but is now also President of the newly formed, Omega-sponsored, Omega Alpha SPAC (Nasdaq: OMEG; oversubscribed $138m IPO priced January 6, 2021).

Harith Rajagopalan (Fractyl)

Af­ter a decade in the Type 2 di­a­betes game, Fractyl Lab­o­ra­to­ries recharges with a fresh $100M and a new name

Harith Rajagopalan compared the way Type 2 diabetes is managed to sticking your fingers in a dam that’s leaking from a number of places.

You can take drugs to lower your blood sugar, cholesterol, or blood pressure, but you’re not addressing what he says is the core issue — the metabolic abnormality that causes the disease.

“We’re so busy plugging the holes in the dam, we don’t have time to see that the whole infrastructure is at risk,” he said. “That infrastructure is a full-body systemic metabolic abnormality called metabolic syndrome, that we’re ignoring while we’re so busy trying to treat all of the individual symptoms of the condition.”

Barry Greene, Sage CEO

UP­DAT­ED: Sage's sec­ond chance at de­pres­sion hits the PhI­II pri­ma­ry, but ques­tions re­main over dura­bil­i­ty, side ef­fects

Looking to make a comeback after a big Phase III flop, Sage Therapeutics revealed data they believe could change the entire depression treatment landscape, given the vast array of failures in the field. But some results are spooking investors, sending Sage $SAGE shares down early Tuesday.

First, the primary: Sage and Biogen reported Phase III data for once-daily zuranolone Tuesday morning, saying the experimental drug hit its primary endpoint by spurring a statistically significant change from baseline in the 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression total score. After 15 days, patients in the drug arm saw an average change of -14.1 points, compared to -12.3 on placebo.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 109,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Michel Sade­lain puts his name and new cell en­gi­neer­ing tech be­hind 'ag­nos­tic' CAR-T start­up chas­ing epi­ge­net­ic anti­gens

It felt natural for Alain Maiore and Sebastian Amigorena to bring in Michel Sadelain as a co-founder of Mnemo Therapeutics. A CAR-T pioneer, Sadelain had been involved as an advisor since the early days — enthusiastic about Amigorena’s work in a genetic knockout that could enhance T cell memory and a new class of potential targets he’s discovered — and could introduce some well-known technologies to the toolbox. So they got the initial cash from Sofinnova Partners to plant roots in Paris and New York in early 2019; within a few months, they began to see more clearly just what the antigen discovery platform might unlock.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 109,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Bio­gen sig­nals a big PhI­II fail­ure as the lead gene ther­a­py in their $800M Night­star buy­out goes down in flames

That $800 million buyout of Nightstar has turned into a bust for Biogen as the lead therapy in the deal failed a pivotal study, signaling a severe setback for the biotech’s ambitions in gene therapies.

The big biotech put out the word after the market closed on Monday that the gene therapy they picked up in the deal for a degenerative blindness called choroideremia failed the Phase III study, just a month after their #2 drug in the deal also flopped in a mid-stage study.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 109,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Hal Barron, GSK R&D chief (Endpoints News)

Hal Bar­ron gam­bles $625M cash on high-wire TIG­IT act, throw­ing Glax­o­SmithK­line in­to heat­ed race and com­plet­ing next-gen I/O trin­i­ty

Count Hal Barron and GlaxoSmithKline in for the TIGIT fight.

The stakes are as high as the risks: While a growing pack of Big Pharma rivals is lending credence to the hypothesis that TIGIT will be the next big immune checkpoint and cancer drug target, the first clinical trials have shown response rates that can be described as modest at best. But Barron’s bet is on the whole “axis” that the receptor sits on, with an eye on testing its new anti-TIGIT antibody not just in combo with PD-1 but also in triplets.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 109,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

As Covid-19 shifts the world's at­ten­tion to biotech, Noubar Afeyan's Flag­ship builds $3.4B fund to fu­el new in­ven­tions. Here's the plan

A little more than a year ago, Flagship Pioneering rolled out a monster fund with $1.1 billion in it to bankroll the platform companies they were creating inside their own labs. But it turns out, that was just the prelude to a much, much larger raise, as both current investors — who’ve been reaping the rewards of some booming biotech stocks — join in with new investors betting on more in the years to come.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

An­oth­er busy week for IPOs be­gins with an off-the shelf cell ther­a­py play­er sniff­ing around uni­corn sta­tus

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

A flurry of biotechs are expected to hit Nasdaq this week, with two companies, Ambrx Biopharma and Century Therapeutics, setting the terms for their public debuts, with expected raises at $126 million and $200 million, respectively. Alzamend Neuro is also joining in with a $12.5 million raise and two preclinical Alzheimer’s treatments in tow.

Alexander Vos, VectorY CEO

Start­ing fresh in man­u­fac­tur­ing, For­bion start­up re­fu­els to steer next-gen gene ther­a­py ap­proach for ALS, Alzheimer's in­to clin­ic

Forbion laid out its case for a next-generation gene therapy approach when it took the wraps off VectorY Therapeutics and its vectorized antibody tech in February. Now, the Dutch VC has tapped an experienced hand at cell and gene therapy manufacturing to steer the ship — and pulled a marquee syndicate for a €31 million ($37.6 million) seed round.

Alexander Vos, the new CEO, is a venture partner at BioGeneration Ventures and jumps immediately from VarmX, a BGV portfolio company developing an anticoagulant. But before that, he had led Dutch CDMO PharmaCell for eight years until it was bought out by Lonza.