Calidi Biotherapeutics goes public through SPAC deal to advance off-the-shelf cancer treatments

Calidi Biotherapeutics, SPAC, cell therapy, allogeneic, off-the-shelf treatment, Special purpose acquisition company, M&A

Calidi Biotherapeutics, a San Diego-based biotech, has chosen the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) path to enter the public market, securing nearly $70 million in funds to advance its allogeneic stem cell therapies through 2025.

In a significant move, Calidi Biotherapeutics made its Nasdaq debut following its merger with SPAC First Light Acquisition Group. Despite transaction expenses and debts amounting to approximately $18 million, the combined company, which retains the Calidi name and leadership team, has achieved gross proceeds of about $28 million through the merger.

To bolster its financial standing, Calidi Biotherapeutics has also entered into a forward purchase agreement with a consortium that includes Meteora Capital, Great Point Capital, and Funicular Funds, providing up to $10 million in funding. Furthermore, the company intends to establish a separate agreement with Lincoln Park Capital Fund, potentially providing an additional $50 million in capital, as stated in the September 13 release. The Company believes that the proceeds available to the Company from the transactions will be sufficient to fund its operations into 2025.

Calidi’s primary clinical-stage asset, CLD-101, utilizes its NeuroNova platform. This therapy involves allogeneic neural stem cells loaded with an oncolytic adenovirus and has already undergone a phase 1 study involving patients with newly diagnosed high-grade gliomas. An early-stage study for high-grade gliomas commenced in June, with an interim update anticipated in the first half of 2024. 

“We founded Calidi in 2014 with a mission to develop a new generation of targeted immunotherapies that could revolutionize the treatment of cancer. Our team has worked diligently to build on decades of research with human stem cells and develop two novel off-the-shelf platforms designed to directly target and attack tumor cells throughout the body, and we are proud of our promising clinical results to-date. Calidi’s cutting-edge platforms NeuroNova, targeting high-grade gliomas, and SuperNova, targeting solid tumors, use allogeneic stem cells in our clinical efforts to bring a universal cancer treatment to a broad patient population who need access to new treatment options. We look forward to pushing the boundaries of cell-based virotherapies and continuing to research novel ways to eradicate cancer in this next step as a public company.”

– Allan Camaisa, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Calidi Biotherapeutics

Another promising candidate in Calidi’s portfolio is CLD-201, which leverages the SuperNova platform. This therapy comprises allogeneic adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells loaded with the tumor-selective CAL1 oncolytic vaccinia virus. Plans are in place to initiate a phase 1/2 study evaluating CLD-201 in advanced metastatic solid tumors, including triple-negative breast cancer, unresectable melanoma, and squamous cell head and neck carcinoma, in the second half of the coming year.

Founded in 2014, Calidi Biotherapeutics is dedicated to bringing a universal cancer treatment to a wide patient population in need of new therapeutic options, according to CEO Allan Camaisa.

Although not as prevalent as during their peak in 2021, 2023 has seen a steady stream of biotech companies choosing the SPAC route to go public. Notable examples this year include Alzheimer’s-focused Anew Medical and gene therapy biotech enGene. Calidi Biotherapeutics’ SPAC merger marks another milestone in this ongoing trend, highlighting the biotech sector’s resilience and adaptability in navigating the complexities of fundraising and market entry.

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