After Allergan Acquisition, Naurex Spins Out New Brain Research Company, Aptinyx

After Allergan Acquisition, Naurex Spins Out New Brain Research Company, Aptinyx
September 16, 2015
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Evanston, Ill.-based Naurex Inc. announced today that it has spun out a new company, Aptinyx Inc. The new company will focus on modulators of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor to treat brain and nervous system disorders.

Naurex was acquired by Dublin, Ireland-based Allergan plc in July for $560 million. The sale closed on Aug. 28. Naurex has a lead product, GLYX-13 (rapastinel) for depression, which is soon to enter Phase III trials. In addition, its NRX-1074 is in Phase I trials. Both drugs are modulators of the NMDA receptor.

“As we close the last chapter in the story of Naurex, we are excited to begin anew with Aptinyx and continue our work addressing unmet needs in central nervous system disorders,” said Norbert Riedel, president and chief executive officer of Aptinyx in a statement. “Our company launches with significant seed financing to support advancement of our preclinical development programs, an experienced and talented team, and a high-potential research collaboration with Allergan. We look forward to building upon our track record of innovation and value creation with our new company.”

Aptinyx will continue to collaborate with Allergan on NMDA receptor modulators to treat psychiatric and neurologic disorders. Allergan will have the right to in-license some of the compounds discovered.

Allergan hasn’t expressed much interest in in-house drug development, generally acquiring technology or companies after proof-of-concept has been determined. In the case of the Aptinyx spinoff, Allergan will take GLYX-13 through Phase III development and onto commercialization if successful. Aptinyx will continue conducting research and development of preclinical projects.

Much of Naurex’s executive staff are staying on with Aptinyx. Riedel, who was president and chief executive officer of Naurex will take on the same duties at Aptinyx. Joseph Moskal, founder and chief science officer of Naurex, will continue with that role at Aptinyx. Ashish Khanna, Naurex’s vice president of corporate development will act as chief business officer at the new company, and Torsten Madsen, who was previously on the Naurex board of directors, will be the new chief medical officer at Aptinyx.

Also joining Aptinyx will be Patricia Adams, as vice president of human resources and administration, David Houck, as vice president of drug development and quality, and M. Amin Khan, as vice president of chemistry research and development.

“This is not a single-trick pony,” Riedel told Blue Sky. “It’s a pipeline of molecules that all work in the same mechanism of modulating the NMDA receptor and thereby makes for one of the strongest pipelines in the country — and probably globally.”

Aptinyx will utilize Naurex’s delivery platform and preclinical drug pipeline. It is expected to focus in neurological disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, epilepsy, and neuropathic pain.

“Throughout my research, I have seen that NMDA receptor modulators have great therapeutic potential in neurology and psychiatry and we confirmed this potential with the positive results that we saw with the Naurex clinical programs in depression,” said Moskal in a statement. “At Aptinyx, our team will explore additional CNS indications with the next-generation of NMDA receptor modulators — developing our independent pipeline and collaborative research programs.”

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