Allergan Draws on Another Aptinyx Compound to Complement its Phase III Depression Drug

Published: May 22, 2018 By

Allergan

Allergan has exercised an option to acquire an oral small molecule compound from Illinois-based Aptinyx, a spinout of Naurex, Inc., which the Irish company acquired in 2015. The company will use it as a complement to a Phase III depression treatment.

Aptinyx and Allergan entered into their research collaboration to discover and characterize novel small-molecule NMDA receptor modulators using Aptinyx's proprietary chemistry platform. Allergan optioned its rights from the 2015 deal to acquire AGN-241751, an oral small-molecule N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor modulator. The drug is being developed to treat neurologic disorders. The new drug candidate, which was discovered by Aptinyx, will build on an ongoing research collaboration between the two companies. Allergan has plans for AGN-241751 to become a complementary treatment for another product it gained in the acquisition of Naurex – rapastinel.

Rapastinel, an intravenously administered NMDA receptor modulating tetrapeptide, is currently in a Phase III trial for major depressive disorder with results expected next year. One year after Allergan acquired Naurex rapastinel received Breakthrough Therapy Designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of major depressive disorder.

“Through our productive research collaboration with Aptinyx and parallel development of rapastinel, we have gained important insights into NMDA receptor modulation as a potential therapeutic approach for depression,” C. David Nicholson, chief R&D officer at Allergan, said in a statement. “We plan to advance AGN-241751 for the treatment of MDD and believe its pharmacological profile will enable it to become an oral complement to rapastinel, further bolstering our pipeline of therapeutics addressing areas of significant unmet medical need.”

Depression impacts nearly 20 million Americans yearly and major depressive disorder affects nearly 300 million people across the globe. The disorder negatively impacts quality of life and function in those people who are battling it. The large numbers of people battling these disorders has created an annual market of about $83 billion.

Norbert Riedel, president and chief executive officer of Aptinyx, touted his company’s research collaboration with Allergan. Riedel said it has been “fruitful” for both parties and added that he is pleased it will continue with the clinical development of AGN-241751.

“The exercise of this option underscores the therapeutic potential of molecules generated from our discovery platform, which modulate NMDA receptors in a novel and differentiated way and may significantly improve the lives of patients suffering from various neurologic disorders,” Riedel said in a statement.

As Allergan drives toward potential approval of rapastinel, rival drugmaker Janssen is a little bit closer to fielding its own NMDA treatment for depression. Earlier this month the company unveiled positive Phase III results from two clinical studies with its flexibly dosed esketamine nasal spray.

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