🐳 Psychedelics startup X big pharma licensing deal
💵 At-home ketamine therapy company scores $23m Series A
🔎 Psychedelics Research Review (March 2022)
📅 2 events from our friends in D.C. and London
P.S. We’re updating our Psychedelics Job Board. If you’re a psychedelics-related organisation, or an organisation hiring for psychedelics-related roles, get in touch to ensure your listings are included.
Psychedelic Sector News
Psychedelic Startup Licenses Assets from Big Pharma: Terran Biosciences 🤝 Sanofi
Terran Biosciences—the low-profile psychedelics company that claims to have >150 psychedelics patents (see our March 18 Bulletin)—has again turned heads via the licensing of a number of assets from big pharma company Sanofi.
We reported last month that Concert Pharmaceuticals sold a number of CNS assets to Terran, which is rapidly emerging from stealth. Now, Terran is scooping up more CNS assets, this time entering into an agreement with Sanofi for worldwide exclusive rights to develop and commercialise two late-stage CNS assets.
According to the press release, the therapeutics it’s licensing have “generated 4 Investigational New Drug (IND) applications and over 104 clinical studies involving more than 15,000 subjects across a number of CNS indications.”
Terran is guarded when it comes to disclosing the precise indications it will pursue with these assets, opting to disclose the broad bucket as “neurological and psychiatric indications,” which it claims include “several novel applications where there is a large unmet medical need.” In earlier disclosures Terran has implied it is working on a potential treatment for schizophrenia, an MRI-based imaging diagnostic for Parkinson’s, TBI and other indications, and other projects entirely.
And, on that ‘over 150 psychedelics patents’ claim: it’s likely an even larger IP portfolio now, given the company’s acquisition of Blumentech’s full patent portfolio and data, which includes the work of the late Dr. Jordi Riba Serrano. The associated press release also hints at an orally-active DMT compound as part of its medicinal chemistry drug discovery program.
To recap: Terran has been on a licensing spree this year, announcing deals with:
- Concert Pharmaceuticals (March 11) – Terran acquires portfolio of CNS therapeutics;
- Columbia University (March 16) – Terran acquires rights to CNS biomarker software platform (worldwide, exclusive);
- Sanofi (April 21) – Terran licenses late-stage CNS pipeline assets (worldwide, exclusive).
As a private company, there’s little publicly-available information on Terran’s finances that we can share, but we do know that the company has received funding from Noetic Fund, Catalytic Impact Foundation and Transhuman Capital. Its ability to strike a deal with Sanofi, which has a market cap of over $130 billion at the time of writing, has impressed many.
This isn’t exactly the playbook we expected to see. Just over a year ago we reported that Japan’s pharmaceutical giant Otsuka struck a deal with atai Life Sciences’ Perception Neuroscience to commercialise the latter’s R-ketamine (PCN-101) for mood disorders in Japan. Prior to this, Otsuka licensed key patents from one of the most prominent academics in the ketamine-as-antidepressant field, and supported the academic financially for some time. Otsuka also struck a deal with Mindset Pharma, under which it will fund the development of Mindset’s Family 2 and Family 4 psychedelic compounds.
Terran’s announcements, meanwhile, are the inverse of this playbook: psychedelics start-up licenses assets from big pharma incumbent.
Never a dull moment!
At-Home Ketamine Therapy Company Lands $23m Series A
Less than a year after its $3.3m seed round, psychedelic-assisted therapy telemedicine start-up Nue Life Health has landed a whopping $23m in a series A financing.
At the risk of muddying our analysis and diluting our efforts, we don’t cover ketamine clinics so much. But, this is a remarkable round that demonstrates some level of investor confidence in the at-home ketamine therapy space, despite a range of recent reporting on concerns surrounding the niche.
The round was led by Obvious Ventures.
- COMPASS Pathways partners with One Mind to fund Rising Star Awards for the next generation of mental health researchers;
- Cybin partners with CRO for Phase 1/2a trial of CYB003 for MDD;
- Filament Health and Psyence enter into exclusive licensing agreement for natural psilocybin products;
- Mindset Pharma files provisional patent application covering next-generation DMT and 5-MeO-DMT drug candidate compounds;
- MYND Life Sciences announces $3.5m share offering.
STAT Reporting Highlights Potential Risks of Psychedelic Therapies, Including Elder Abuse
Olivia Goldhill’s latest psychedelics reporting for STAT covers a lawsuit filed in May 2021 that alleges a MAPS board member exploited her relationship with George Sarlo, an elderly psychedelics advocate suffering from depression and PTSD, using psychedelics to enhance his dependence on her.
In this particular case, it’s the line between consensual gift-giving and financial elder abuse that’s unclear:
“Despite the conflicting accounts, it’s clear there’s a critical need for strong regulations to protect users of psychedelic medicines against potential abuse, experts told STAT. Elderly people, especially those who experience cognitive decline, are at risk of being taken advantage of financially, they said. “These are frail, at-risk older adults who are not as able to advocate for themselves,” said [Donovan] Maust [, a geriatric psychiatrist and health services researcher at the Michigan Medicine Department of Psychiatry]. “They’re absolutely at a power disadvantage.””
While there’s plenty of back-and-forth in the article, one thing is certain: this should remind us of the potential of any caregiving relationship to be taken advantage of, but that psychedelics may enhance that risk.
As psychedelic therapies continue their trip to the mainstream, incidents like this one highlight the importance of regulations and routes of recourse in order to protect those participating in these modalities.
Read the full piece at STAT.
See You There? PSYCH Symposium, London, May 11
Our friends at PSYCH are hosting a one-day event at the National Gallery in London, with speakers including:
- Amanda Feilding, Beckley Foundation
- George Goldsmith, COMPASS Pathways
- Rick Doblin, MAPS
- Robert Barrow, MindMed
- Carol Routledge, Small Pharma
- Christian Angermayer, atai Life Sciences
MindMed’s collaborator Dr. Matthias Liechti is also expected to present topline clinical trial results for LSD in anxiety disorders at the event.
20% off for Psilocybin Alpha readers via this link (discount code: ALPHA).
The 2nd Annual Psychedelic Therapeutics & Drug Development Conference: Washington, DC, May 23-24
Taking place in-person on May 23-24, 2022 in Washington, DC, this event has been organized to bring together the world’s leading researchers and leaders in academia, industry, the non-profit sector and government to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing those engaged in the research and development of psychedelics for various health conditions with considerable unmet need.
Our speakers and panelists will be covering important topics such as Clinical Trial Design, Intellectual Property, Regulatory Guidance, Psychedelic Drug Delivery, Commercialization, Legal Issues, Emerging Preclinical Science, and New Clinical Data among other topics.
For more information, visit www.psychedelics-conference.com.
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