Trial software group raises $45M to push decentralized studies; $120M SPAC makes its way to Nasdaq
After watching the entire clinical trial process go through a major makeover during the pandemic, another software outfit is making a play to help developers get on the cutting edge of trial design and decentralized execution.
Hoboken, NJ-based Castor has just raised $45 million to fund development of software intended to scale up their “direct-to-patients” approach globally. This new round brings their total funding to $65 million.
Eight Roads Ventures and F-Prime Capital led the round, with participation from existing investors Two Sigma Ventures and Inkef Capital.
The big idea here is that patients can enroll in trials online, uploading data as they go through the study and cutting out the old reliance on brick-and-mortar trial sites. Easier interactions with patients should go a long way to improve the odds of completing a trial and getting it done more efficiently.
“Castor was created with the mission to help researchers globally conduct more effective clinical trials while improving the patient experience,” said Castor founder and CEO Derk Arts in a statement. “Prioritizing the patient and site user experience is particularly important today, when COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the nature of clinical trials.” — John Carroll
JATT Acquisition SPAC is headed to Nasdaq
One of the newest life sciences SPACs out there is ready for its Nasdaq closeup.
JATT Acquisition, the SPAC from a co-founder of Pathios Therapeutics and CEO of Akaza Bioscience and Izana Bioscience, priced Wednesday morning to the tune of a $120 million raise. The blank-check company will launch at $10 per share with the ticker $JATTU.
The SPAC is run by Someit Sidhu, a relative unknown who before his biotech experience worked at the consulting firm McKinsey, where he cut his teeth advising unnamed global pharma companies. He also holds a degree from Oxford Medical School with an emphasis on cardiology and general surgery.
Also on the team are Tauhid Ali, a former Takeda vet who launched three biotechs out of the pharma’s incubator, and Arnout Ploos van Amstel, former head of Novartis’ immunology, hepatology and dermatology franchises. — Max Gelman
Alkeus nabs BTD for degenerative eye disease
Alkeus Pharmaceuticals has won a new endorsement from the FDA.
The Somerville, MA-based biotech announced Wednesday the agency has bestowed a Breakthrough Therapy Designation upon its experimental drug ALK-001 to treat Stargardt disease. Designed to be taken once a day, the candidate is a chemically-modified form of vitamin A developed for multiple retinal degenerative diseases, the company said. Alkeus’ BTD came after a Phase II randomized placebo study.
The biotech estimates that between 40,000 and 60,000 patients currently live with the disease, and almost everyone diagnosed ultimately becomes legally blind. — Max Gelman