Seattle-area longevity company emerges – Bradford Zakes recently assisted in the merger of his Seattle-area biotech company, Cerevast Medical, with two startups to form a new company. He is now preparing to take Longevity Biomedical public as president and CEO through a merger with a shell company.
Longevity, based in Bothell, Washington, is expected to gain at least $30 million from the merger. The merger of Longevity and a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) is expected to be completed in the second quarter of this year.
Longevity brings together Cerevast, NovoKera, a Nevada startup, and Aegeria Soft Tissue, a Johns Hopkins University spinoff.
The common theme is assisting ageing people in living healthier, longer lives, according to Zakes in an interview with Tech News Forum.
“We believe we have put together a really appealing portfolio of assets,” Zakes said. [Seattle-area longevity company emerges]
Cerevast’s experimental treatments for stroke and retinal vein occlusion, a common cause of blindness; Aegeria’s experimental product for soft-tissue reconstruction; and NovoKera’s preclinical product for corneal blindness are now in Longevity’s pipeline.
According to a statement released Thursday announcing the SPAC deal, Longevity aims to “increase health span” for ageing individuals.
As part of the SPAC agreement, Longevity will acquire all equity securities of the three startups in exchange for Longevity common stock.
The combined company is estimated to be worth $236.2 million. The SPAC transaction may also raise an additional $30 million via a pre-transaction PIPE (private investment in public equity).
“By no means has this been an easy one,” Zakes said of the series of transactions. “It’s taken a long time to get here.” [Seattle-area longevity company emerges]
Longevity’s management team includes Francesco Curra, chief technology officer of Cerevast, and Anthony Lee, chief operating officer of NovoKera. Brenda Sparks, previously the corporate controller at Cancer Prevention Pharmaceuticals, was hired as Longevity’s chief financial officer.
Longevity is still in the planning stages, but Zakes says some employees from the other startups will most likely relocate to the Seattle area. Cerevast’s six employees are joining Longevity, and the proceeds from the SPAC merger, which is expected to fuel the company through 2025, will be used to hire more.
The shell company involved in the SPAC deal, Denali Capital Acquisition Corp., is owned by the investment bank US Tiger Securities, and its CEO is Lei Huang, CEO of Tiger Securities.
The transaction takes place during a massive downturn in technology and a cooling biotech market. [Seattle-area longevity company emerges]
According to Endpoints News’ IPO tracker, only 25 biotech companies went public last year, 12 via SPAC merger, compared to 147 biotech companies going public in 2021, 48 via SPAC merger. In 2023, no biotech company has completed an IPO.
In 2022, more than 55 SPAC transactions were also cancelled, including one involving Seattle startup Intrinsic Medicine.
Zakes is planning to acquire additional assets related to longevity in the long term.
“Our intention is not to stop with these core assets, but rather to remain very opportunistic and look for additional technologies, products, and partnerships with companies to broaden our portfolio,” Zakes explained.
Zakes was a former executive at ICOS Corporation, a Seattle biotech firm purchased by Eli Lilly for $2.3 billion in 2007. He was also previously president and CEO of ImaRx Therapeutics, the assets of which were acquired by Cerevast at its inception in 2009, when he was appointed CEO. [Seattle-area longevity company emerges]
According to Zakes, the ultimate goal of Longevity is to become a “one-stop shop for consumers of longevity-related products and services.” The company is also interested in the low- to middle-income market.
The new company joins Altos Labs, a $3 billion investment-backed longevity biotech company, and Calico Life Sciences, a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet. According to Zakes, longevity offers a unique set of technologies, including Cerevast’s ultrasound technology. The pipeline of Longevity includes:
A possible stroke treatment that combines transcranial ultrasound with standard anti-clotting therapy to break up clots and restore blood flow.
A retinal vein occlusion treatment that combines ultrasound with gas-filled microspheres that expand and contract to help break up clots is currently available.
A biosynthetic tissue scaffold with the potential to be used in soft tissue reconstruction to help fill out ageing tissue or after breast cancer and other conditions surgery.
A biosynthetic cornea with the potential to replace current treatments that rely on human cornea transplantation.
Longevity intends to use the funds to complete a phase 3 study of its ischemic stroke candidate, phase 2 studies of its candidates for retinal vein occlusion and soft tissue reconstruction, and preclinical studies of its biosynthetic cornea. [Seattle-area longevity company emerges]