SPAC backs Revelation to tackle respiratory viral infections

The spectrum of special purpose acquisition company mergers encompasses all deal sizes. While multibillion-dollar mergers have defined the space in 2021, Revelation Biosciences is joining with Petra Acquisition to create a Nasdaq-listed company with the relatively Lilliputian enterprise value of $128 million. 

San Diego-based Revelation will pocket $73 million through the merger. Revelation will use the money to advance REVTx-99, a nasal drop formulation designed to stimulate the innate immune system via TLR4-TRIF pathway agonism. By driving the production of interferons and other cytokines in the nose, REVTx-99 could tackle viruses as soon as they enter the body.

In a 48-subject phase 1 trial, Revelation linked REVTx-99 to increased intranasal levels of the cytokine IP-10. Revelation identified IP-10 as the key cytokine of interest because it is upregulated in response to respiratory viral infection and linked to clinical efficacy in challenge studies. REVTx-99 drove the increase without upregulating inflammatory cytokine IL-6 or any systemic cytokines. 

With phase 1 proof-of-principle data in hand, Revelation is now gearing up for further development. A 60-subject phase 2 influenza viral challenge study is slated to start in the first quarter of 2022. If everything goes to plan, Revelation could start a phase 3 clinical trial for the prevention of respiratory viral infection by the end of next year. 

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Revelation sees potential for high-risk groups to use the product to provide additional protection in influenza season as well as for the general population to use the product after coming into contact with an infected individual or ahead of situations that could expose them to viruses. REVTx-99 is also in development as a treatment of chronic nasal congestion, with a phase 1 trial set to start this year.

The same platform has generated a second, earlier-stage candidate, REVTx-200. Revelation sees the follow-up prospect as a way to improve the immune response to intramuscular vaccines. The plan is to form a relationship with a vaccine development company to study the nasal candidate.