Pfizer Spinoff Cerevel Therapeutics Begins Trading on the Nasdaq
Two years ago, Cerevel Therapeutics spun out of Pfizer. It then took an unusual approach, merging with a special purpose acquisition company, Arya Sciences Acquisition Corp II. Arya was designed specifically to acquire or merge with another company.
Today, Cerevel Therapeutics began trading on the Nasdaq. The net proceeds from the transaction with Arya total about $440 million, including funds held in Arya II’s trust account and the concurrent private investment in public equity (PIPE) financing.
The definitive business combination took place on July 29, 2020 and was sponsored by Perceptive Advisors. Cerevel received proceeds of about $467 million before transaction expenses, which included cash proceeds of about $147 million from Arya II’s trust account and $320 million from PIPE investors led by Perceptive, in addition to Adage Capital Management, Ally Bridge Group, Boxer Capital, EcoR1 Capital, Federated Hermes Kaufmann Small Cap Fund, Fidelity Management & Research Company, Invus Public Equities, Novalis LifeSciences, RA Capital Management, funds managed by Rock Springs Capital, Sphera Healthcare, Surveyor Capital and accounts managed by T. Rowe Price Associates. In addition, existing Cerevel shareholders as well as Bain Capital and Pfizer investors participated.
“At Cerevel, we seek to become the premier neuroscience company by leveraging our deep expertise and understanding of neurocircuitry with our focus on receptor selectivity,” said Tony Coles, chairman and chief executive officer of Cerevel. “I want to thank our investors, our employees, our founders at Bain Capital and Pfizer and our board for making this transaction a success and ensuring that we have resources necessary to develop our extensive pipeline. We seek to transform what is possible in neuroscience and make a profound difference in the lives of people with schizophrenia, anxiety, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.”
The merged companies have a value of about $1.3 billion. Cerevel’s lead compound, tavapadon, is in development for early- and late-stage Parkinson’s disease. The drug’s Phase III program will include three clinical trials and have a data readout by 2023. Two other programs are for schizophrenia and epilepsy, with data expected in 2021 and 2022. The company is also working on drugs for substance use disorder, CVL-936, and apathy associated with Alzheimer’s disease, CVL-871.
On October 6, Cerevel dosed the first patient in the Phase II REALIZE trial of CVL-865 as adjunctive treatment for adults with drug-resistant focal onset seizures, the most common seizure disorder in epilepsy. CVL-865 is a subtype selective positive allosteric modulator (PAM) that targets GQBAA receptors containing alpha 2/3/5 subunits. In a Phase II single-dose study it demonstrated robust anticonvulsant activity in patients with photosensitive epilepsy, with six of seven patients receiving the drug experiencing complete suppression of intermittent photic stimulation (IPS). This type of epilepsy is triggered by flashing lights.
“Nearly one-third of people experiencing focal onset seizures do not respond to currently available treatments, as many therapeutic options cause intolerable side effects such as sedation, cognitive and motor impairments, and potential for addiction in some cases,” said Raymond Sanchez, Cerevel’s chief medical officer. “A novel anti-epileptic therapy that is well-tolerated and appropriate for chronic use would be an invaluable addition to the treatment options available to these patients. Based on previous trials, CVL-865 has the potential to provide clinically meaningful activity with an attractive tolerability profile, and we look forward to demonstrating these benefits in the CVL-865 REALIZE trial.”
In the 2018 spinout from Pfizer, Pfizer contributed a portfolio of pre-commercial neuroscience assets, with three clinical-stage compounds and several preclinical molecules, all targeting CNS disorders. Cerevel is headquartered in Boston.