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.