Joe Swedish, CHP chairman (Jacquelyn Martin/AP Images)

A medtech com­pa­ny's SPAC merg­er falls flat, miss­ing on nine-fig­ure val­u­a­tion

The biotech bear mar­ket is not leav­ing medtech com­pa­nies out of its reach, as In­tegri­ty Im­plants, aka Ac­celus, is now dis­cov­er­ing.

Ac­celus and SPAC part­ner CHP Merg­er Corp. will no longer be join­ing hands in a re­verse merg­er, the com­pa­nies an­nounced late Fri­day. The pair had an­nounced last No­vem­ber that it would at­tempt to take Ac­celus, which fo­cus­es on mak­ing min­i­mal­ly in­va­sive surgery (MIS) a stan­dard of care in spine treat­ment, pub­lic through the $482 mil­lion blank check ve­hi­cle.

Ac­cord­ing to Ac­celus, “mar­ket con­di­tions” are to blame for the SPAC de­cou­pling. The de­ci­sion takes place af­ter a bruis­ing first quar­ter in the mar­kets, with few biotechs go­ing pub­lic and many re­or­ga­niz­ing their pipelines and en­gag­ing in lay­offs.

Chris Walsh

When the merg­er was first an­nounced, Ac­celus CEO and co-founder Chris Walsh was slat­ed to helm the new com­pa­ny af­ter more than two decades in the space. Out­side of Ac­celus, Walsh spent more than a decade at San Diego de­vice mak­er Nu­Va­sive and about sev­en years in the spine team at Stryk­er, a Michi­gan med­ical tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny.

“In light of mar­ket con­di­tions, we be­lieve that this strate­gic piv­ot will best en­able our team to ex­e­cute on our mis­sion to trans­form the spine surgery space by ac­cel­er­at­ing the adop­tion of MIS as the stan­dard of care,” Walsh said.

On the fi­nan­cial side of things, the com­pa­ny be­hind the SPAC, CHP Merg­er Corp., has de­cid­ed to liq­ui­date — which will of­fi­cial­ly hap­pen next Mon­day. No specifics were giv­en as to how much the liq­ui­da­tion will be, but CHP Merg­er Corp. had gone the IPO route back in 2019, an­nounc­ing its plans to raise $275 mil­lion via the pub­lic mar­ket, rais­ing 27.5 mil­lion shares at $10 a share.

CHP is backed by an af­fil­i­ate of health­care VC Con­cord Health Part­ners.

Biotech in­vestors and CEOs see two paths to growth, but are they equal­ly vi­able?

The dynamic in the biotech market has been highly volatile in the last few years, from the high peaks immediately after the COVID vaccine in 2021, to the lowest downturns of the last 20 years in 2022. This uncertainty makes calling the exact timing of the market’s turn something of a fool’s errand, according to Dr. Chen Yu, Founder and Managing Partner of TCG Crossover (TCG X). He speaks with RBC’s Noël Brown, Head of US Biotechnology Investment Banking, about the market’s road ahead and two possible paths for growth.

Casey McPherson shows his daughters Rose (left) and Weston around Everlum Bio, a lab that he co-founded to spark a treatment for Rose and others with ultra-rare conditions. (Ilana Panich-Linsman)

Fa­ther starts lab af­ter in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty is­sues stymie rare dis­ease drug de­vel­op­ment

Under bright lab lights, Casey McPherson holds his 6-year-old daughter, Rose. His free hand directs Rose’s gaze toward a computer screen with potential clues in treating her one-of-a kind genetic condition.

Gray specks on the screen show her cells that scientists reprogrammed with the goal of zeroing in on a custom medicine. McPherson co-founded the lab, Everlum Bio, to spark a treatment for Rose — and others like her. A regarded singer-songwriter, McPherson never imagined going into drug development.

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Benjamine Liu, TrialSpark CEO

Paul Hud­son and Tri­alSpark's mu­tu­al de­sire to speed up de­vel­op­ment con­verges in three-year, six-drug goal

A unicorn startup that originally set out to hasten clinical studies for biopharma partners dug further into its revised path of internal drug development by linking arms with Sanofi in a pact that the biotech’s CEO said originated from the top.

TrialSpark and the Big Pharma on Tuesday committed to in-licensing and/or acquiring six Phase II/Phase III drugs within the next three years.

“I’ve known Paul Hudson for a while and we were discussing the opportunity to really re-imagine a lot of different parts of pharma,” TrialSpark CEO Benjamine Liu told Endpoints News, “and one of the things that we discussed was this opportunity to accelerate the development of new medicines in mutual areas of interest.”

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Look­ing to push CAR-T in sol­id tu­mors, Bay Area biotech goes pub­lic in SPAC flip — with slight name change

SPACs might be slowly creeping back.

Monday evening, Estrella Biopharma said it was going public via a SPAC deal with TradeUP Acquisition Corp. The deal is set to close in the first half of 2023, and if all goes as planned, the public version of Estrella — dubbed Estrella Immunopharma — will be worth around $398.5 million.

The Bay Area biotech will also get around $45.4 million in cash, and TradeUp stockholders will get around 15% stock in the public biotech.

Take­da to pull key hy­poparathy­roidism drug from the mar­ket en­tire­ly by end of 2024 af­ter years of man­u­fac­tur­ing woes

Takeda on Tuesday morning made an announcement that almost 3,000 people with the rare disease known as hypoparathyroidism were fearing.

Due to unresolved supply issues and manufacturing woes, Takeda said it will cut its losses and discontinue its hypoparathyroidism drug, known as Natpara (parathyroid hormone), halting all manufacturing of the drug by the end of 2024.

The decision to not re-commercialize Natpara will be a blow to not only the 2,400 people who were awaiting supplies of their reliable injection since 2019, but also the additional nearly 400 people who were accessing the drugs via the company’s Special Use Program as Takeda sought to resolve these manufacturing issues over the past five years.

Marc Dunoyer, Alexion CEO (AstraZeneca via YouTube)

Up­dat­ed: As­traZeneca nabs a small rare dis­ease gene ther­a­py play­er for 667% pre­mi­um

AstraZeneca is kicking off the fourth quarter with a little M&A Monday for a gene editing player recently overcoming a second clinical hold to its only program in human studies.

The Big Pharma and its subsidiary Alexion are buying out little LogicBio for $2.07 per share. That’s good for a massive 667% premium over its Friday closing price, when it headed into the weekend at 27 cents and just weeks after Nasdaq said LogicBio would have to delist, which has been put on hold as the biotech requests a hearing. It’s one of two biotech deals to commence October, alongside the news of Incyte buying a vitiligo-focused biotech.

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Dave Marek, Myovant CEO

My­ovant board balks as ma­jor­i­ty own­er Sum­it­o­mo swoops in with a $2.5B deal to buy them out

Three years after Sumitomo scooped up Roivant’s 46% stake in the publicly traded Myovant $MYOV as part of a 5-company, $3 billion deal, they’re coming back for the whole thing.

But these other investors at Myovant want more than what the Japanese pharma company is currently offering to pay at this stage.

Sumitomo is bidding $22.75 a share for the outstanding stock, which now represents 48% of the company after Sumitomo bumped its ownership since the original deal with Roivant. Myovant, however, created a special committee on the board, and they’re shaking their heads over the offer.

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Astel­las, Pan­th­er­na add or­gan to mR­NA tie-up; Rock­et launch­es sale of six fig­ures worth of stock

Astellas and Pantherna have expanded their November 2021 pact surrounding the latter’s mRNA platform to include a new target organ, the duo announced Tuesday morning, though they did not specify what that target is.

German biotech Pantherna is home to two platform technologies — one that designs mRNAs for non-vaccine therapies and another that designs LNPs. Astellas and Pantherna’s deal appears to mainly revolve around the first platform, which Astellas said it is using to research direct reprogramming, or turning cells from one kind into another without an intermediate stem cell phase.

John Santini, President and CEO of Vergent Bioscience

Tiny Ver­gent seals mod­est Se­ries B in pur­suit of can­cer imag­ing agent

A biotech with only two full-time employees now has millions of more dollars to spend in its work on an imaging molecule.

Based out of Minneapolis, MN, Vergent Bioscience announced Tuesday morning that investors handed the company $21.5 million via a Series B round. The last time the company got funding was in 2018, thanks to a Series A worth $8.7 million.

The biotech’s emphasis is in a molecule called VGT-309, a fluorescent imaging agent that would allow surgeons to more quickly find solid tumors in patients during surgery. The biotech had originally in-licensed the molecule from Stanford. CEO and president John Santini tells Endpoints News that initially, Vergent was looking at dyes for non-human use only, for R&D applications.

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