Euthymics Bioscience Inc., a Cambridge, Mass.-based developer of antidepressants, has raised $24 million in Series A funding. The milestone-tranched deal was co-led by Novartis Venture Funds and Venture Investors, with H&Q Capital Management, LLC, GBS Venture Partners and the State of Wisconsin Investment Board also participating. Some proceeds were used to acquire DOV Pharmaceutical Inc.
Euthymics Bioscience, Inc., a clinical-stage company developing next-generation antidepressants, today announced the completion of a Series A financing — led by Novartis Venture Funds and Venture Investors — for a total investment commitment of $24 million in milestone-conditioned tranches. Hambrecht & Quist Capital Management, LLC, GBS Venture Partners and the State of Wisconsin Investment Board also participated in the financing. The initial Series A proceeds were used to complete the acquisition of DOV Pharmaceutical, Inc. and allow for the continued development of DOV’s unique antidepressant, EB-1010 (formerly known as DOV 21,947), for patients who do not respond adequately to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. The merged company will operate as a privately held corporation with headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“This impressive commitment speaks to the potential of our clinical-stage entry into the antidepressant market,” said Anthony A. McKinney, President, CEO and co-founder of Euthymics. “We are addressing a significant unmet medical need, we have convincing Phase II proof-of-concept efficacy in major depression and we anticipate the start of a Phase II/III trial in the first half of 2011.”
Euthymics’ lead product, EB-1010, is intended for the estimated two-thirds of major depression patients who do not respond adequately to SSRIs. This segment is the single largest group of patients with depression and represents a major unmet medical need. EB-1010 is a novel unbalanced triple reuptake inhibitor which modulates serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. By “tuning” the affinity for each of these neurotransmitters in one molecule, EB-1010 is designed to improve efficacy and reduce side effects of current antidepressants, including weight gain, sexual dysfunction and cognitive impairment without the need for multiple prescriptions or complex titrations. The EB-1010 ratio of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine modulation is very similar to the triple combination given as multiple medications that was shown to improve outcomes in STAR*D, the large federally funded trial in major depression. EB-1010 has demonstrated proof-of-concept efficacy and attractive tolerability in patients with major depression.
“The antidepressant prescription market is among the largest, with an excess of 200 million prescriptions dispensed annually in the U.S. and a value exceeding $20 billion worldwide,” said Campbell Murray, M.D., Managing Director of Novartis Venture Funds, who will serve as Euthymics’ Chairman. “Euthymics enters this field with a ready-made market of underserved patients, a clinical-stage drug and an executive team with an impressive track record. In short, we have all the ingredients for success for our company and for our patients.”
Euthymics is led by an experienced management team. President and CEO Anthony McKinney was one of the original executives at Orexigen, where, as Chief Operating Officer, he helped take the company public and move its lead products into the clinic. He was also a member of the founding management team at Novazyme, and was Senior Vice President and General Manager at Genzyme after it acquired Novazyme for $137 million. Euthymics was co-founded by Franklin P. Bymaster, who will serve as Chief Scientific Officer. Bymaster spent over 33 years at Lilly and was involved with many of its successful CNS drugs including Prozac, Zyprexa, Strattera and Cymbalta.
Joining the Euthymics Board along with Dr. Murray are Paul Weiss, Ph.D., of Venture Investors, Frank Gentile, Ph.D., of Hambrecht & Quist Capital Management, LLC and Andrew Baker, Ph.D., of GBS Venture Partners.
When clinical trials begin next year, Maurizio Fava, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Executive Vice Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and one of the leading depression experts worldwide, will serve as principal investigator.
In addition to EB-1010 for depression, the DOV acquisition gives Euthymics a pipeline of monoamine reuptake inhibitors for other CNS disorders including ADHD, obesity, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and drug addiction.
About Euthymics Bioscience, Inc.
Euthymics Bioscience, Inc. is a neuroscience-focused clinical-stage company developing next-generation treatments for depression. Euthymics’ initial focus is on patients who do not respond adequately to SSRIs. EB-1010 for depression is expected to improve efficacy and reduce the leading side effects associated with poor adherence to standard antidepressants including weight gain, sexual dysfunction and cognitive impairment. Euthymics is a private Delaware corporation with headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Additional information can be found on the company’s website at www.euthymics.com.