AbbVie, Gilgamesh Sign Potential $2B Deal to Develop Neuroplastogens for Psychiatric Disorders

AbbVie

Pictured: AbbVie's office in South San Francisco, California/iStock, vzphotos

AbbVie on Monday announced a collaboration and option-to-license deal with Gilgamesh Pharmaceuticals to improve upon psychedelic therapies for psychiatric disorders.

Under the terms of the agreement, AbbVie will make an upfront payment of $65 million and pledge up to $1.95 billion in option and milestone fees. Gilgamesh will also remain eligible for tiered royalties from mid-single to low-double digit royalties on net sales.

In return for its investment, AbbVie will be able to work with Gilgamesh on its portfolio of novel therapies for psychiatric indications. The pharma will also have the option to lead the development and commercialization activities for specific programs, though the partners did not indicate initial focus areas.

Monday’s partnership will enable AbbVie to innovate in the field of psychedelics and “pursue novel technologies and approaches” to psychiatric disorders, responding to the “significant unmet need” in this space, Jonathon Sedgwick, senior vice president and global head of discovery research at AbbVie, said in a statement.

Gilgamesh’s pipeline is powered by its proprietary drug discovery platform, which combines “complex behavioral assessments, advanced electrophysiology and molecular measures of neuroplasticity” to identify and design novel drugs, according to the biotech’s website. The company’s platform also leverages artificial intelligence to systematically assess the bioactivity of psychoactive compounds, with the aim of improving their translation to clinical use.

Through this AI-driven approach, Gilgamesh has built a promising pipeline of psychiatry candidates known as neuroplastogens. Unlike the classic psychedelic compounds, which commonly cause “profound psychoactive effects” including hallucinations, neuroplastogens focus on pathways with minimal side effects, according to the companies.

These new-generation treatments “hold substantial promise for treating a variety of psychiatric conditions” including anxiety and mood disorders, the companies contend.

With Monday’s agreement, AbbVie rides the industry’s growing wave of interest in next-generation psychiatric therapies. In March 2024, Ansbert Gadicke, managing partner of MPM BioImpact, told BioSpace that recent advancements in the psychedelic space have improved their properties and opened up their use in therapeutic settings, particularly for neuropsychiatric conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Ahead of AbbVie, several other pharma companies have started increasing investments in this space. Earlier this month, Reunion Neuroscience successfully raised $103 million in a Series A funding round backed by Novo Holdings, MPM BioImpact, Arkin Bio Capital and other institutional supporters. Reunion’s lead candidate is RE104, a psychedelic candidate for postpartum depression.

In March 2024, MindMed announced that its LSD candidate MM120 won the FDA’s breakthrough designation for generalized anxiety disorder, following promising Phase IIb data.

Tristan Manalac is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. Reach out to him on LinkedIn or email him at tristan@tristanmanalac.com or tristan.manalac@biospace.com.

Correction (May 15): This story has been updated from its original version to clarify that the deal between AbbVie and Gilgamesh is focused on neuroplastogens, which are distinct from psychedelics. BioSpace regrets the error.

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