Hyerfine Inc. and Liminal Sciences Inc. have joined a growing field of med-tech startups that are combining with blank check companies as an alternative path for venture-backed companies to an initial public offering (IPO). On Thursday, the companies announced a three-way combination with Healthcor Catalio Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), in a deal valued at approximately $580 million.
In search of new therapies for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Eli Lilly and Co. has agreed to pay Verge Genomics $25 million in up-front, equity and potential near-term payments, plus as much as $694 million in milestones, to discover and validate up to four new targets for treating the disease over the course of a three-year collaboration. Verge retained rights to its internal lead ALS program, poised to enter the clinic next year.
Biopharma deal-making activity continues to keep the same pace as 2020, but the value of completed mergers and acquisitions is still painfully languishing in comparison with other recent years. While pandemic partnerships appear to be falling, oncology and regenerative medicine are driving the high-money deals, as are an increasing number of billion-dollar pacts. Meanwhile preclinical efforts account for about 23% of this year’s total value, and the amounts of up-front payments, particularly for clinical-stage products, are rising.
A collaboration between Oncosec Medical Inc. and Merck and Co. that yielded positive phase II study data has paved the way for a phase III study between the two companies. Oncosec’s DNA-plasmid interleukin-12 (IL-12) Tavo (tavokinogene telseplasmid) will be combined with Merck's anti-PD-1 therapy Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in a randomized, global phase III study for treating late-stage metastatic melanoma.
In a deal that could be worth up to $565 million, Simcere Pharmaceutical Group Ltd. licensed in glutaminyl cyclase inhibitor varoglutamstat (PQ-912) and monoclonal N3pE-antibody PBD-C06, which target the neurotoxic amyloid species N3pE (pGlu-Abeta), from Vivoryon Therapeutics AG to develop and commercialize for Alzheimer’s disease in greater China.
Surmodics Inc. has acquired Vetex Medical Ltd., a Galway, Ireland-based company focused on venous clot removal, for $39.9 million. The move gives Surmodics a second FDA-cleared mechanical thrombectomy device, Revene, to treat venous vasculature, adding to its Pounce arterial thrombus retrieval system. Founded in 2016, privately held Vetex’s sole product is the Revene thrombectomy catheter. The device received FDA clearance in December 2020 and CE mark approval in May for the mechanical declotting and controlled and selected infusion of physician-specified fluids, including thrombolytics – clot-busting drugs – in the peripheral vasculature.
LONDON – Following on from the $25 million up-front payment received on sealing their recent research collaboration, Mina Therapeutics Ltd. is now in line for a $15 million equity investment from Eli Lilly and Co. Inc.
Advaxis Inc.’s long journey is ending happily by way of a merger with Biosight Ltd. that leaves the new firm with $50 million to help advance aspacytarabine (BST-236), a prodrug of cytarabine for acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes.
KT Corp. took its first step into the digital therapies space by entering into an agreement with Neurosigma Inc. to develop electronic therapies to treat neurological and neuropsychological disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression and epilepsy. KT will support the design and development of Neurosigma’s next-generation versions of external trigeminal nerve stimulation (eTNS) products that incorporate artificial intelligence (AI), big data and cloud capabilities.