Mark Timney, Blade Therapeutics chairman (Blade)

Small biotech chaired by ex-Pur­due CEO Mark Tim­ney jumps in­to the SPAC lane

The lat­est biotech SPAC has land­ed, and it’s one fea­tur­ing Pur­due Phar­ma’s for­mer CEO, Mark Tim­ney.

Blade Ther­a­peu­tics an­nounced its plans Mon­day to re­verse merge with the blunt­ly named Biotech Ac­qui­si­tion Com­pa­ny in a $254.3 mil­lion deal. Tim­ney, who cur­rent­ly serves as Blade’s ex­ec­u­tive chair­man, will re­tain the same role once the com­bined com­pa­ny com­pletes the merg­er in the first quar­ter of 2022.

Most of the funds — $230 mil­lion — come from the SPAC’s bank ac­count with the re­main­ing $24.3 mil­lion stem from a PIPE fi­nanc­ing that has a blue-chip slate of back­ers, in­clud­ing Deer­field, the VC arms of Pfiz­er and Bris­tol My­ers Squibb, MPM Cap­i­tal and Os­age Uni­ver­si­ty Part­ners.

As to what the SPAC cash will fund, Blade said in a press re­lease it ex­pects to push for­ward “clin­i­cal, man­u­fac­tur­ing and pre­clin­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties” for its lead pro­grams with the new mon­ey.

Lit­tle ink has been spilled about Blade, but the South San Fran­cis­co-based biotech is aim­ing to bring oral small-mol­e­cule drugs to mar­ket. The lead pro­gram is known as cud­e­tax­e­s­tat, which Blade de­scribes as a “non-com­pet­i­tive, re­versible in­hibitor of au­to­tax­in.” It’s ex­pect­ed to en­ter a Phase II study in the first half of next year for id­io­path­ic pul­monary fi­bro­sis, Blade said.

Cud­e­tax­e­s­tat al­so re­cent­ly be­gan an­oth­er Phase I study last month to in­ves­ti­gate how it works in com­bi­na­tion with oth­er ap­proved ther­a­pies in IPF. It’s ex­pect­ed to wrap up be­fore April 2022.

The biotech al­so has three pre­clin­i­cal can­di­dates cur­rent­ly un­der de­vel­op­ment, each of which are cal­pain in­hibitors. Blade’s lead pre­clin­i­cal pro­gram is BLD-2184, which it’s de­vel­op­ing to treat a range of neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­or­ders such as Hunt­ing­ton’s dis­ease, spin­ocere­bel­lar atax­ia type 3, Parkin­son’s dis­ease and Lewy body de­men­tia, among oth­ers.

Blade says it’s plan­ning a Phase I tri­al for BLD-2184 in the first half of 2022. The biotech’s oth­er two pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams are be­ing de­vel­oped for lung and liv­er fi­bro­sis, re­spec­tive­ly.

De­spite be­ing named in dozens of law­suits for his role in the opi­oid epi­dem­ic at Pur­due, Tim­ney has not found him­self lack­ing job op­por­tu­ni­ties. He pre­vi­ous­ly joined The Med­i­cines Com­pa­ny as CEO in De­cem­ber 2018, earn­ing an $84 mil­lion wind­fall in the biotech’s near­ly $10 bil­lion sale to No­var­tis the next year. And ear­li­er this year, Tim­ney joined At­tralus Ther­a­peu­tics as CEO in his next stop.

SPACs con­tin­ue chug­ging along fol­low­ing a mas­sive boom ear­li­er this year, lead­ing to more than $300 bil­lion across all mar­ket sec­tors by the end of the first quar­ter. Af­ter reg­u­la­tors asked fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions to vol­un­tar­i­ly pro­vide doc­u­men­ta­tion on how they were in­ter­nal­ly polic­ing the blank-check com­pa­nies, ac­tiv­i­ty slowed, but it’s since picked back up as the year moved on.

MedTech clinical trials require a unique regulatory and study design approach and so engaging a highly experienced CRO to ensure compliance and accurate data across all stages is critical to development milestones.

In­no­v­a­tive MedTech De­mands Spe­cial­ist Clin­i­cal Tri­al Reg­u­la­to­ry Af­fairs and De­sign

Avance Clinical is the Australian CRO for international biotechs providing world-class clinical research services with FDA-accepted data across all phases. With Avance Clinical, biotech companies can leverage Australia’s supportive clinical trials environment which includes no IND requirement plus a 43.5% Government incentive rebate on clinical spend. The CRO has been delivering clinical drug development services for international biotechs for FDA and EMA regulatory approval for the past 24 years. The company has been recognized for the past two consecutive years with the prestigious Frost & Sullivan CRO Best Practices Award and a finalist in Informa Pharma’s Best CRO award for 2022.

Tony Coles, Cerevel CEO

Cerev­el takes the pub­lic of­fer­ing route, with a twist — rais­ing big mon­ey thanks to ri­val da­ta

As public biotechs seek to climb out of the bear market, a popular strategy to raise cash has been through public offerings on the heels of positive data. But one proposed raise Wednesday appeared to take advantage not of a company’s own data, but those from a competitor.

Cerevel Therapeutics plans to raise $250 million in a public offering and another $250 million in debt, the biotech announced Wednesday afternoon, even though it did not report any news on its pipeline. However, the move comes days after rival Karuna Therapeutics touted positive Phase III data in schizophrenia, a field where Cerevel is pursuing a similar program.

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Who are the women blaz­ing trails in bio­phar­ma R&D? Nom­i­nate them for End­points' 2022 spe­cial re­port

Over the past three years, Endpoints News has spotlighted 60 women who have blazed trails and supercharged R&D across the biopharma world. And judging from the response we’ve received, to both our special reports and live events, telling their stories — including any obstacles they may have had to overcome — has inspired our readers in many different ways.

But change takes time, and the fact remains that women are still underrepresented at the upper ranks of the drug-making world.

Bernat Olle, Vedanta Biosciences CEO

Cit­ing 'chal­leng­ing eco­nom­ic en­vi­ron­ment,' PhI­II-ready mi­cro­bio­me biotech lays off 20% of staffers

The market downturn isn’t just sweeping up public biotechs.

Vedanta Biosciences, a developer of oral drugs derived from the human microbiome, is laying off about 20% of its staff — an unfortunately common occurrence these days. But CEO Bernat Olle took the unusual step of sharing the decision on LinkedIn and offering to connect the employees being let go with any company that’s hiring in their areas.

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Hervé Affagard, MaaT Pharma CEO

One year in­to clin­i­cal hold, FDA has more ques­tions about 'pooled' mi­cro­bio­me ther­a­py

The FDA is still wary about a trial testing a microbiome therapy in patients with steroid-resistant acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD).

A year after MaaT Pharma’s IND application in the US was first met with a clinical hold, the French biotech said the agency is maintaining the hold. The crux of the matter, MaaT suggested, has to do with the way it puts together its drug candidate, which is administered as an enema (i.e. an injection of fluid into the bowel).

Up­dat­ed: Amid mas­sive re­struc­tur­ing, Bio­gen looks to re­duce phys­i­cal pres­ence in Boston

Biogen is putting a sizable chunk of office and research space in Kendall Square and Weston, MA up for sublease, marking another big change as the biotech grapples with the aftershock of a disastrous and controversial rollout for its Alzheimer’s drug.

The subbleases are “part of Biogen’s overall implementation of the ‘Future of Work,’ which is allowing us to optimize our footprint and reduce the amount of space we occupy, taking into consideration new elements such as the hybrid work model,” Biogen spokesperson Ashleigh Koss wrote in a statement to Endpoints News, adding that the company has had subleases across several buildings for years.

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Pfiz­er launch­es re­bate pro­gram for rare dis­ease pa­tients who have to stop tak­ing Panzy­ga

Pfizer is launching its second-ever rebate program, this time for Panzyga, its treatment for a rare neurological disease of the peripheral nerves.

The program began last month, according to STAT which first reported the news, and offers a refund of out-of-pocket costs for patients who must discontinue their course before the fifth treatment for “clinical reasons.”

Panzyga was approved back in 2018 to treat primary immunodeficiency (PI) in patients two years and older and chronic immune thrombocytopenia (cITP) in adults. It has since picked up an indication in chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), a condition that’s characterized by weakness of the arms or legs, tingling or numbness, and a loss of deep tendon reflexes, according to the NIH.

Horizon's back-to-school campaign for children with cystinosis includes an all about me poster as part of a care package box.

Hori­zon read­ies kids and fam­i­lies for back to school with week­long ac­tiv­i­ties around rare dis­ease cysti­nosis

Going back to school is usually a bumpy readjustment from summer freedom for all kids, but especially for kids with chronic health conditions. Horizon Therapeutics is hoping to help smooth the way for some who have the rare disease cystinosis. Cystinosis is a genetic disease that causes the amino acid cystine to build up in different tissues and organs.

The “Gear Up” for school campaign is running all week with different online and at-home events and activities for families and children with cystinosis. Each family who signed up receives a care package mailed to their home including an activity coloring book “Michael’s Show-and-Tell.” The book tells Michael’s story about living with cystinosis while offering kids matching, coloring and finding object games along with information.

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Alessandro Maselli, Catalent CEO

Catal­ent ac­quires North Car­oli­na CD­MO for $475M, boost­ing oral solids work

As Catalent has been expanding its reach in the US this year, as well as recently completing a C-suite shuffle, the company announced last night that it has acquired the CDMO Metrics Contract Services for $475 million from Mayne Pharma Group.

The acquisition will increase Catalent’s capabilities in oral solid formulation development, manufacturing and packaging as well as expand its capacity to handle more highly potent compounds.

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