Corey McCann, Pear Therapeutics CEO

The dig­i­tal health field con­tin­ues to boom as Soft­Bank-backed start­up hits uni­corn sta­tus in SPAC re­verse merg­er

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At the in­ter­sec­tion of med­i­cine and cut­ting-edge tech­nol­o­gy, the broad field of dig­i­tal health has seen boom­ing val­u­a­tions in re­cent months with some big-name in­vestors jump­ing in. Now, a com­pa­ny work­ing on soft­ware-based ther­a­peu­tics has leaped to uni­corn sta­tus and will take its show on the road to Nas­daq.

Pear Ther­a­peu­tics, a start­up de­vel­op­ing pre­scrip­tion dig­i­tal ther­a­peu­tics, will go pub­lic as part of a re­verse merg­er with a tech-fo­cused SPAC dubbed Thim­ble Point Ac­qui­si­tion Corp. that will val­ue the com­pa­ny at $1.6 bil­lion, the part­ners said Tues­day.

As part of the pact, Thim­ble Point will in­vest a to­tal of $400 mil­lion, with $276 mil­lion com­ing from the SPAC’s trust ac­count and the rest in PIPE fund­ing. The deal is ex­pect­ed to close in the sec­ond half of the year, and the new­co plans to trade un­der the tick­er $PEAR.

Pear cur­rent­ly sports three FDA-ap­proved PDTs, as they call them, which are stand­alone or com­ple­men­tary soft­ware prod­ucts that the biotech hopes to ex­tend in­to a range of ther­a­peu­tic ar­eas. The most re­cent prod­uct ap­proved was Som­ryst, a treat­ment for chron­ic in­som­nia that earned the FDA’s nod in March 2020.

In De­cem­ber, Pear closed an $80 mil­lion Se­ries D led by Japan’s Soft­Bank Vi­sion Fund 2. That round was ex­pand­ed to $100 mil­lion as an ad­di­tion­al in­vestor jumped on board in March.

On top of chron­ic in­som­nia, a mar­ket Pear es­ti­mates could hold around 30 mil­lion US pa­tients, the com­pa­ny’s two oth­er prod­ucts tar­get opi­oid ad­dic­tion, an­oth­er field that could in­clude as many as 20 mil­lion pa­tients, it said. On top of in­vest­ing more funds in­to com­mer­cial­iza­tion plans, Pear will look to build its pipeline, which in­cludes 14 in­ves­ti­ga­tion­al prod­ucts, the com­pa­ny said in a state­ment.

Elon Boms

“Thim­ble Point sought to col­lab­o­rate with a high-growth, tech-en­abled com­pa­ny with the po­ten­tial to dis­rupt large and es­tab­lished in­dus­tries,” the SPAC’s CEO, Elon Boms, said in a state­ment. “We chose to in­vest in Pear be­cause we be­lieve it has the op­por­tu­ni­ty to be­come the pri­ma­ry com­mer­cial plat­form through which pa­tients and pre­scribers ac­cess PDTs. Our growth cap­i­tal comes at an in­flec­tion point for Pear, as the team works to­wards ex­pect­ed near-term val­ue cre­ation mile­stones.”

Thim­ble Point went pub­lic back in Feb­ru­ary with a $240 mil­lion IPO and the goal “to fo­cus on high-growth soft­ware and tech­nol­o­gy-en­abled com­pa­nies that are dis­rupt­ing large and es­tab­lished in­dus­tries and mar­kets,” the blank-check com­pa­ny said in its prospec­tus. The team be­hind Thim­ble Point starts with Boms, the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at the Pritzk­er Vlock Fam­i­ly Of­fice and co-founder and chair­man of Launch­Cap­i­tal.

Pear comes with the No­var­tis brand name at its back af­ter sign­ing a deal with the Swiss drug­mak­er in March 2018 to work on the schiz­o­phre­nia and mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis front. No­var­tis gener­ics sub­sidiary San­doz al­so joined up to help launch opi­oid PDT re­SET in late 2018 but backed out af­ter re­jig­ging its port­fo­lio af­ter the de­par­ture of CEO Richard Fran­cis.

Pear is part of a wave of dig­i­tal health plat­forms that have earned mas­sive val­u­a­tions in re­cent months. Just last month, de­cen­tral­ized clin­i­cal tri­al play­er Sci­ence 37 went pub­lic as part of its own SPAC re­verse merg­er, earn­ing a val­u­a­tion at a lit­tle more than $1 bil­lion.

Mean­while, ge­net­ics test­ing com­pa­ny 23andMe went pub­lic back in Feb­ru­ary as part of a re­verse merg­er with a SPAC from bil­lion­aire Richard Bran­son. That deal val­ued the com­pa­ny at a whop­ping $3.5 bil­lion.

Image courtesy of The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.

Pro­tect­ing the glob­al phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­no­va­tion ecosys­tem – what’s at stake?

We are living in a new era of healthcare that is rapidly advancing progress impacting patient outcomes and experiences. We’ve seen a remarkable pace of transformational innovation, applied research, and advanced clinical development over the last decade.

Despite this tremendous progress, there is much more work to be done, and patients are counting on us – now more than ever – to continue that momentum. At the heart of our industry is a focus on developing and delivering medicines for some of the world’s most challenging diseases, including those that have few or no effective treatments today.

Roger Perl­mut­ter lines up deals, fresh fund­ing at Eikon; Sec­ond RSV vac­cine ap­proved; Sev­er­al biotechs flash­ing red; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

As you come back to our website this weekend for ASCO news, don’t forget to check out our updated event lineup at BIO, which will cover everything from the current state of VC investing in biotech to top pharma R&D chiefs discussing how to make pipeline decisions.

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Take­da ax­es gene ther­a­py deal with Po­sei­da Ther­a­peu­tics amid broad­er re­think

Less than two years after Takeda inked a collaboration with Poseida Therapeutics to develop six liver-directed and hematopoietic stem cell-directed in vivo gene therapies, Takeda will end the partnership on July 30, the company confirmed to Endpoints News.

The breakup is not unexpected, coming on the heels of Takeda’s April announcement that it planned to stop discovery and preclinical work in AAV gene therapy, as well as research and preclinical work on rare hematology. A representative for Takeda confirmed that the partnership ended because of the company’s decision to stop that work.

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Bris­tol My­er­s' Op­di­vo keeps can­cer at bay in more lym­phoma pa­tients than Seagen's Ad­cetris in PhI­II: #AS­CO23

CHICAGO — In a study pitting Seagen’s Adcetris against Bristol Myers Squibb’s Opdivo in newly diagnosed patients with advanced classic Hodgkin lymphoma, a greater proportion of those who received Opdivo saw no cancer growth at one year compared to those who got Adcetris.

In addition, patients in the Opdivo arm of the Phase III trial reported reduced toxicities, according to lead investigator Alex Herrera, a hematologist-oncologist at City of Hope’s cancer cancer in Duarte, CA. Notably, the trial included more than 200 children across both arms. Generally, more than half of children with advanced Hodgkin lymphoma receive radiation therapy, but in this trial, dubbed SWOG S1826, only a handful of patients in the two arms received radiotherapy, sparing many children from long-term side effects of radiation.

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Full TIG­IT da­ta from Gilead, Ar­cus show low­er PFS rates than De­cem­ber read­out: #AS­CO23

CHICAGO — Gilead and Arcus unveiled a fuller snapshot of a Phase II study testing their experimental cancer immunotherapy combo that showed lower progression-free survival rates than its previous update, results that are likely to spark further debate over the closely-watched clinical trial.

Last December, the anti-TIGIT/anti-PD-L1 combo, positioned as a first-line treatment for non-small cell lung cancer, recorded data that drew mixed reactions. The latest analysis, presented Saturday afternoon at ASCO, included only a handful more patients than the previous update, but PFS rates fell — in one cohort by nearly three months.

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Roger Perlmutter, Eikon Therapeutics CEO

Roger Perl­mut­ter builds Eikon's pipeline with deal-mak­ing flur­ry, rais­ing $106M more

Eikon Therapeutics announced three business development deals on Thursday, effectively dropping in a pipeline of cancer drugs alongside more than $100 million in fresh funding.

The Hayward, CA-based company has become one of biotech’s richest startups since its 2019 founding, having raised nearly $775 million. It’s developing a massive, automated research approach built around Nobel Prize-winning microscope science to peer inside cells and watch proteins in action. After its Series B last year, PitchBook reported a $3.02 billion valuation. And while CEO Roger Perlmutter declined to comment on that figure, he said its first tranche of nearly $106 million in Series C funding is a “meaningful step-up to our Series B valuation.”

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Servi­er’s vo­rasi­denib stalls pro­gres­sion of brain can­cer by 61% in piv­otal PhI­II IN­DI­GO study: #AS­CO23

An experimental pill from Servier Pharmaceuticals showed potentially practice-changing results in a narrow group of brain cancer patients, cutting the risk of their cancers progressing by 61%, according to a late-stage clinical trial.

The drug, vorasidenib, is a precision medicine that only works in certain people whose cancer carries mutations in one of two genes called IDH1/2. Doctors hope that the therapy will delay the need for chemotherapy or radiation, which are often used to combat relapses in patients who’ve previously undergone surgery to remove brain tumors.

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Peter van de Sande, Synaffix CEO

Lon­za shells out $107M cash to snap up Synaf­fix and its ADC plat­form

After lining up a string of partnerships over the years, Dutch antibody-drug conjugate specialist Synaffix has found a new home: Lonza, the contract development and manufacturing giant.

Lonza is paying about $107 million (€100 million) in cash to acquire Synaffix, with up to $64 million (€60 million) in “additional performance-based consideration” on the table. Synaffix’s ADC tech platform will now become part of Lonza’s offering for biopharma clients, lending its bioconjugate technologies to not just ADCs but also targeted gene therapy, immune cell engagers and other applications.

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The Modulo Bio team with CEO Michael Horowitz (fourth from right in semicircle)

Ex­clu­sive: With $8M, neu­ro start­up Mod­u­lo Bio emerges to test small mol­e­cules for ALS, de­men­tia in CEO’s per­son­al mis­sion

Embarking on a personal mission after his best friend’s mother was diagnosed with a mutation-driven case of frontotemporal dementia, Michael Horowitz has pulled together $8 million in venture funding at Modulo Bio to create small molecules for neurodegenerative diseases.

The San Diego and Bay Area biotech will select its lead development candidate and some backup options within six months and then raise a Series A to investigate therapeutics for C9orf72 mutation-driven cases of ALS and frontotemporal dementia, Horowitz told Endpoints News.

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