Blade Therapeutics Eyes Nasdaq in 2022 with Planned SPAC Merger

Nasdaq_Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Weeks after Blade Therapeutics secured Orphan Drug Designation for its experimental systemic sclerosis treatment cudetaxestat, the Bay Area-based company is heading to a listing on the Nasdaq following a merger with a special purpose acquisition company.

The merger between South San Francisco-based Blade Therapeutics, which is focused on developing treatments for incurable fibrotic and neurodegenerative diseases, and SPRIM Global Investments affiliate Biotech Acquisition Company, will provide the company with $254.3 million to drive the development of cudetaxestat, an investigational non-competitive autotaxin inhibitor in clinical development for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. 

Blade Therapeutics Chief Executive Officer Wendye Robbins noted that the proposed merger with Biotech Acquisition Company would advance the company’s mission to bring life-changing treatments to patients with devastating diseases. 

Blade is aiming to advance a differentiated pipeline of small-molecule therapies with disease modifying potential for fibrotic and neurodegenerative diseases. With the backing of the finances from BAC, Blade believes that this will provide near- and long-term value for the company and its shareholders. 

The company is expected to initiate Phase II studies of cudetaxestat in the first half of 2022. Cudetaxestat has demonstrated direct anti-fibrotic activity and differentiating preclinical and biochemical characteristics, which support the potential for a treatment profile in lung and liver fibrosis. 

Available data from completed Phase I studies have shown that cudetaxestat was well tolerated with a demonstrated pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic correlation, biomarker activity, and a supportive clinical safety profile.

For neurodegenerative diseases, the company will begin a Phase I study of BLD-2184, a CNS-penetrant calpain inhibitor for genetic orphan neurodegenerative conditions, during the same time. The company believes that BLD-2184 has potential as a treatment for Huntington's disease and spinocerebellar ataxia type 3, also known as SCA3 or Machado-Joseph disease.

The merger of the companies is expected to complete in the first quarter of 2022. The combined company is expected to have a post-transaction enterprise value of approximately $352.8 million when it is finalized. 

Blade Therapeutics will rebrand as Blade Biotherapeutics and list on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “BBTX.” The deal also includes approximately $24.3 million in PIPE financing that has been backed by the venture arms of Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squibb, as well as investment firms Deerfield Management, MPM Capital and Osage University Partners.

Robbins will continue to serve as president and CEO when the merger is completed, and Jean-Frederic Viret will serve as chief financial officer. Mark Timney, Blade's current chairman of the board, will be nominated as chairman of the combined company's board of directors.

Over the past few years, multiple companies have opted for this route, including the recently announced SPAC merger by Hong Kong-based Prenetics Limited. As BioSpace previously reported, there was a 250% increase in SPAC mergers in 2020. However, that rapid pace for stock listings has continued over several months. 

Recent SPAC mergers include Amicus Therapeutics and ARYA Sciences Acquisition Corp IV and Clarus Therapeutics and Blue Water Acquisition Corp.both in September. In August, Humacyte and Alpha Healthcare Acquisition Corp. merged and in May, Ginkgo Bioworks and Soaring Eagle Acquisition Corp. tied the knot.

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