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Varian Bio to Go Public Through SPAC Deal With SPK

NEW YORK – Varian Biopharmaceuticals on Monday said that it will merge with special purpose acquisition company SPK Acquisition Corp. and be listed on the Nasdaq as a public company.

Following the merger, slated to close during the second quarter of 2022, the combined company is expected to have a pro forma equity value of about $116 million barring any redemptions from SPK's existing public shareholders. SPK, which has gross proceeds of around $50 million, will change its name to Varian Biopharma after the merger.

Varian will use the proceeds from the deal to develop its atypical protein kinase C iota, or aPKCi, inhibitor as a potential first-in-class treatment for patients with basal cell carcinoma or certain molecularly targeted solid tumors. Specifically, the funds will allow the firm to advance VAR-101, a topical treatment for BCC, and VAR-102, an oral treatment for solid cancers.

According to Varian, the active ingredient in both VAR-101 and VAR-102 has demonstrated anti-tumor activity in preclinical studies involving human BCC cell lines and other cancer models. The agent's intended target, aPKCi, has been implicated as an oncogene in BCC as well as cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, non-small cell lung cancer, acute myeloid leukemia, colorectal cancer, and pancreatic cancer. The firm also highlighted aPKCi's role in enabling the immune system to recognize tumors, recruiting immune cells into the tumor microenvironment, and "ramping up" the anti-tumor response against cancer cells in the lab.

For solid tumor indications, Varian plans to conduct a Phase I basket trial, through which it will explore biomarkers and molecular targeting and target engagement.

LifeSci Capital is acting as SPK's financial and capital markets adviser in the deal, and Loeb & Loeb is providing legal counsel. Dorsey & Whitney is Varian's legal counsel. Following the public listing, Varian will be listed under the ticker symbol "VBIO."