Vanderbilt University inked a deal with publicly traded ACADIA Pharmaceuticals (ACAD) to enter into an exclusive worldwide license agreement to develop and commercialize novel drug candidates targeting the muscarinic MI receptor with the potential to treat a range of central nervous system (CNS) disorders. The collaboration focuses on positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) of the M1 receptor. The drug was developed out of the Warren Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery (WCNDD), a leading academic center focused on discovering new drug candidates.
WCNDD Development Work in the CNS Space Generating Value
The WCNDD has been developing highly selective PAMs of the M1 subtype of muscarinic acetylcholine receptor, which may represent a novel approach for improving cognitive function and other neuropsychiatric symptoms in patients suffering from CNS disorders.
Why did ACADIA seek to license the drug candidate out of Vanderbilt?
According to Steve Davis, ACADIA’s Chief Executive Officer, the collaboration made sense because the work and focus of Vanderbilt fits in with the company’s “innovative late-stage pipeline.” Mr. Davis continued that “While the study of muscarinic modulators has been an area of high interest in the treatment of CNS disorders, it has proved difficult to separate efficacy from unwanted side effects. WCNDD’s approach represents a compelling opportunity for ACADIA to advance new potential therapies to treat disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.”
The Deal Terms
The agreement includes a lead compound currently in Phase I testing, as well as compounds currently in preclinical development and compounds generated in an ongoing discovery program. Under the terms of the License and Collaboration Agreement, Vanderbilt University will receive $10 million upfront and is eligible for potential milestone payments of up to $515 million and tiered royalties.
Jeffrey Conn, PhD, WCNDD director was thrilled with the collaboration noting the exciting potential with ACADIA taking on and working to commercialize “these novel compounds harnessing muscarinic receptors.” He continued, “With ACADIA’s proven development and commercialization expertise in neuropsychiatric disorders in combination with WCNDD’s discovery expertise we hope to develop differentiated treatment modalities that could address cognition and other neuropsychiatric symptoms that represent some of the largest unmet needs in CNS disorders today.”
About ACADIA Pharmaceuticals
ACADIA is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of innovative medicines to address unmet medical needs in central nervous system disorders. ACADIA has developed and commercialized the first and only medicine approved for the treatment of hallucinations and delusions associated with Parkinson’s disease psychosis. ACADIA also has ongoing clinical development efforts in additional areas with significant unmet needs, including dementia-related psychosis, the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, and Rett syndrome.
About the Warren Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery at Vanderbilt University
The Warren Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery extends traditional academic pursuits in basic science to take the most exciting advances in our understanding of human disease and drug targets to a point where these breakthroughs can directly impact patient care. By incorporating the highest level of drug discovery into academic research, the WCNDD propels scientific breakthroughs beyond the lab and toward the development of patentable and marketable drugs suited for clinical studies. The center is staffed by dozens of scientists, most of whom bring industry experience to this collaborative and academic setting. Since 2007, Vanderbilt researchers have made significant progress in finding possible treatments for multiple brain disorders, such as schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, autistic spectrum disorders, dystonia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The university’s research has been funded publicly by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and privately by a number of partners. The organization recently received another $20 million commitment from the William K. Warren Foundation.