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.

Un­lock­ing ESG strate­gies for growth with Gilead Sci­ences

RBC Capital Markets explores what is material in ESG for biopharma companies with the ESG leads at Gilead Sciences. Gilead has long focused on sustainability but recognized a more robust framework was needed. Based on a materiality assessment, Gilead’s ESG strategy today focuses first on drug access and pricing, while also addressing D&I and climate change. Find out why Gilead’s board is “acutely aware” of the contribution that ESG makes to firm’s overall success.

On the hunt for the next Mod­er­na, in­vestors have pumped 'plat­form plays' with cash. Can any­thing slow the run­away train?

It didn’t take an expert to see that mRNA platforms could be huge.

Julie Sunderland partnered with both Moderna and BioNTech about a decade ago while she was running program-related investments for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — and even then the potential for their platforms was obvious despite some well-founded concerns about whether the next-gen tech would ever cross the finish line.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

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

Neu­rona Ther­a­peu­tics is dash­ing to the clin­ic with its cell ther­a­py for epilep­sy — but first, an­oth­er ven­ture round

Six years ago, a band of neuroscientists from the University of California, San Francisco combined decades of research and jumped into the hunt for an off-the-shelf cell therapy. Now, that team is sprinting toward the clinic with a treatment for epilepsy — but first, it’s making a pit stop at the venture well.

Neurona Therapeutics unveiled a $41.5 million round on Tuesday morning, bringing the San Francisco-based biotech’s total raise to $135 million. The cash will be used to advance the company’s pipeline, including an upcoming Phase I/IIa for its lead candidate, NRTX-1001, in chronic focal epilepsy.

Viswa Colluru, Enveda Biosciences

A Re­cur­sion vet­er­an is map­ping plant life to chart a course to new ther­a­pies — and in­vestors like what they see

One of the earliest employees at AI biotech Recursion Pharmaceuticals is leading a new company, and he’s just closed a hefty Series A to get things moving.

Enveda Biosciences pulled in $51 million in the raise, the company announced Tuesday morning, with the goal of pushing some of its preclinical programs further along. Led by CEO Viswa Colluru, Enveda aims to research how machine learning can utilize natural biology to create new therapies for Wilson’s Disease, NASH and Parkinson’s disease, among others.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) with reporters in the Senate Subway (Graeme Sloan/Sipa via AP Images)

Top Wyden pri­or­i­ty for drug price re­forms: Medicare ne­go­ti­a­tions

As the Biden administration tries to wrangle the details of its infrastructure bill, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) took a concrete step forward on drug pricing reforms on Tuesday and unveiled five principles for such reforms, including providing Medicare with the ability to negotiate prices.

“Allowing the Secretary of HHS to negotiate the price Medicare will pay creates a much needed mechanism to achieve fairer prices when the market has failed to do so,” Wyden wrote.

End­points News is now 5 years old. Here's how you can sup­port us for the next phase of growth

Endpoints News turned five years old over the weekend. I wanted to mark the happy occasion by extending our deepest gratitude to Endpoints’ premium subscribers while outlining several other ways to support us as we go broader and get bigger this year and beyond.

Same as any business, we’ve got to create value and get paid for delivering it. So if you depend on Endpoints to stay abreast on biopharma developments, we depend on you too.

Emma Walmsley, GlaxoSmithKline CEO (Credit: Fang Zhe/Xinhua/Alamy Live News)

Ac­tivist in­vestor El­liott in talks with oth­er Glax­o­SmithK­line in­vestors about re­plac­ing Em­ma Walm­s­ley, spin­ning off vac­cine busi­ness — re­port

As Emma Walmsley reveals details this Wednesday about the upcoming split of GlaxoSmithKline’s pharma and consumer units, some tough questions may be coming her way.

Elliott Management, the activist investor that’s previously threatened an attack on GSK (but eventually backed off), is floating more radical changes like replacing the CEO, further breaking up the company and spinning out the vaccine unit, or reviewing the focus on cancer drugs, the Financial Times reported.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 109,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Fred Upton and Diana DeGette

New DARPA-like NIH agency preps for re­al­i­ty as E&C un­veils bi­par­ti­san Cures 2.0 draft bill

House Energy & Commerce leaders Fred Upton (R-MI) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) on Tuesday released new draft legislation with wide-ranging implications for public health, the FDA, NIH, and that would create a new, $6.5 billion federal advanced research agency under NIH, with an aim to cure cancer, Alzheimer’s and other difficult diseases.

Similar to DARPA, the new NIH division to be known as ARPA-H, would be run by a small group of program managers with more latitude to pursue high-risk, high-reward projects that other government agencies would likely shy away from.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

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

Ken Frazier, Merck CEO (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Mer­ck­'s Keytru­da blazes a path in first-line cer­vi­cal can­cer, mak­ing good on drug­mak­er's push for ear­li­er pa­tients

In the years since I/O wonder drug Keytruda’s initial approval, Merck has struck an aggressive clinical trial program, which is now firmly focused on earlier lines of therapy. The drugmaker has scored some success there so far, and now it’s earned one of its biggest wins yet.

Keytruda plus chemotherapy with or without background Avastin significantly extended patients’ lives over those dosed with a placebo control in first-line patients with persistent, recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer, according to top-line data from the Phase III KEYNOTE-826 study revealed Tuesday.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 109,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.