Nautilus set to go public in reverse merger with Perceptive SPAC, aims to test proteomics platform with big-name backers
With the backing of Paul Allen and Jeff Bezos, among others, Nautilus Biotechnology is setting sail for Nasdaq, inking a deal with one of Perceptive’s blank-check companies to unlock the mysteries of the human proteome.
The Seattle-based biotech will reverse merge with Arya Sciences Acquisition Corp III, which penciled in a $143.7 million IPO raise back in late-July, Nautilus said Monday. In August, the SPAC priced 13,000,000 shares at $10 apiece.
The combined company is expected to receive about $350 million upon closing the merger — $150 million from Arya III’s trust account, plus a common stock PIPE of about $200 million led by Perceptive. Nautilus and Arya are hoping to seal the deal in Q2, and pegged their initial market cap at $1.3 billion.
The proceeds will be used to advance Nautilus’ protein analysis platform, which came to co-founder Parag Mallick one weekend morning in an apartment outside Stanford University. Mallick spent that weekend as “kind of a crazy person,” doing simulations to figure out a way to do proteomics differently, he told Endpoints in May. Then he explained the idea to Sujal Patel, who cut him a check that night.
Patel and Mallick founded Nautilus in 2016, and attracted big-name investors like Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital and Bezos Expeditions. Nobel Prize winner Lee Hartwell, who was once president of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, is lending his expertise on the scientific advisory board. The goal is to scale up the emerging field of proteomics as Illumina scaled up genomics, Patel and Mallick, who are now CEO and chief scientist respectively, told Endpoints. And in May, they nabbed a $76 million Series B to do so.
“This mission is guided by a recognition that major advances in proteomics have lagged behind genomics, which Nautilus Biotechnology believes is primarily due to a lack of available tools for measuring the proteome as easily or completely as one can measure the genome and transcriptome,” Nautilus said in a statement on Monday.
Proteomics — the study of all the proteins in an organism — has proven quite the challenge. Scientists say slow progress is due to the fact that it’s much more difficult to detect proteins than it is to detect genetic material. Proteins are more complex and diverse, and they can’t be artificially amplified to make them more readable.
Nautilus says its platform is comprehensive, and can detect minute quantities of protein.
“We believe Nautilus has the potential to help revolutionize biomedicine with an ultra-sensitive, single-molecule protein analysis platform designed to comprehensively analyze and quantify the human proteome,” Patel said.
Arya III is the third in a series from Perceptive. Arya I merged with biotech Immatics in a $252 million deal in March. Cerevel Therapeutics merged with Arya II in July, expecting to raise about $445 million to develop its pipeline.