Bioengineered Human Tissue Company Humacyte Eyes SPAC Merger


North Carolina-based Humacyte is joining the SPAC craze. The company announced this morning it is merging with special purpose acquisition company Alpha Healthcare Acquisition Corp. and will begin trading on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol “HUMA” in the second quarter of 2021.

SPAC mergers have become increasingly popular in the biopharma industry, as companies look for more expeditious ways to go public. Last year, there was a 250% increase in SPAC mergers, which typically provide a quicker pathway to the stock market than a traditional initial public offering. Humacyte’s announcement is following on the heels of SPAC deals by Cambridge, Mass.-based Gemini Therapeutics and Seattle-based Nautilus Biotechnology.

Humacyte aims to develop universally implantable bioengineered human tissue, which means there would be no need for donor tissue matching or a lifetime of immunosuppression. The company believes its products could benefit diabetes and vascular patients. The company is developing a Biovascular pancreas that could eliminate the need for continuous glucose monitoring and exogenous insulin therapy in diabetes patients and is also developing Human Acellular Vessels (HAV) that could provide a potential alternative to synthetic grafts and AV fistulas, among others.

Humacyte has completed five Phase II clinical trials in hemodialysis access and peripheral arterial disease. The company has three ongoing Phase III studies in vascular trauma and AV access, which are expected to be complete by 2023. To date, Humacyte said more than 430 patients have been treated with its HAVs in multiple clinical trials and there have so far been no immunological rejections.

Alpha Healthcare is a special purpose acquisition company currently trading on the Nasdaq under the symbol AHAC. The SPAC is led by Rajiv Shukla, who led an earlier SPAC which merged with DermTech Inc. in 2019.

In September, it raised $100 million in an initial public offering. Private investment in public equity (PIPE) investors include Fresenius Medical Care, OrbiMed, Monashee Investment Management, Alexandria Venture Investments, UBS O’Connor, Morgan Creek Capital, and a number of unnamed health care focused funds.

Humacyte’s merger with Alpha Healthcare will give the combined company a valuation of about $1.1 billion. The merger with Alpha Healthcare provided the company with $255 million of cash proceeds, including a fully committed $175 million PIPE and up to $100 million of cash held in the AHAC trust account.

Following the merger, the combined company will be helmed by Humacyte Chief Executive Officer Laura Niklason.

“Humacyte is a global leader in developing bioengineered tissues for use in regenerative medicine,” Niklason said in a statement. “We are very pleased to have support from top-tier investors, and access to the U.S. capital markets following the closing of this proposed transaction, which will leave Humacyte well-capitalized to provide first-in-class therapies to treat several life-threatening diseases. Our innovative platform has the potential to support tissue repair, reconstruction and replacement without the limitations of existing standards of care. Humacyte’s bioengineered tissues can be produced at commercial scale and, after regulatory approval, are designed to be stored in hospitals and other surgical centers, and immediately available to surgeons whenever needed.”

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