Abpro to go public via SPAC merger with Atlantic Coastal, raising funds for its HER2xCD3 bispecific and COVID-19 program

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Abpro is making a return to the public market after a five-year hiatus, this time teaming up with Atlantic Coastal Acquisition Corp. II, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), to secure a Nasdaq listing and funding for its pipeline, which primarily comprises preclinical immuno-oncology programs. The press release indicates an implied equity valuation of $725 million for Abpro, although it doesn’t specify the financial infusion resulting from the merger.

Atlantic Coastal had initially placed $306 million in a trust account after its IPO last year. However, subsequent redemptions by stockholders, totaling $276 million in April, left the account with only $36 million by the end of June.

Abpro intends to allocate the proceeds from this partnership to advance its pipeline, which closely resembles the lineup from its failed IPO attempt in 2018. At that time, Abpro had listed ABP-100, a HER2xCD3 T-cell engager, as its lead program, still in IND-enabling studies then and nearing phase 1 now, as per Abpro’s website. Additionally, two other candidates were in the IND-enabling stage back in 2018: one, a ligand trap for eye diseases, remains in the same developmental stage, while the other has been removed from the pipeline.

Notable additions to the immuno-oncology portfolio include a candidate targeting CD3 and Claudin18.2, a prominent target in cancer research, as well as another HER2xCD3 bispecific candidate that secured a substantial deal with Celltrion, including potential milestones of up to $1.75 billion for global rights.

The most advanced addition to Abpro’s pipeline is a SARS-CoV-2 antibody, which initially generated attention during the early days of the pandemic but faced challenges with the emergence of new variants. Abpro initiated a phase 2/3 clinical trial for its lead COVID-19 candidate, ABP-300, in late 2020. One year later, the biotech demonstrated the effectiveness of its follow-up candidate, ABP-310, against the omicron variant and aimed for emergency use authorization in 2022.

However, updates on the COVID-19 program have been scarce since the omicron announcement. Abpro has previously sought funding through two rounds, with an offering of $40 million in 2020 and another of $80 million in 2022. At the time of these filings, the biotech had successfully raised $18 million in the first round and $2 million in the second.

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