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