California Biotech Aditum Bio Launches New Spinout Company for Treatment-Resistant Depression


California-based biotechnology investment firm Aditum Bio has announced the creation of a new company that's dedicated to treating depression. The new portfolio firm, Ancora Bio, is focused on developing a new drug to address treatment-resistant depression. It was created just shortly after the company acquired the license to use Taisho Pharmaceutical's selective vasopressin 1b receptor (V1b) antagonist (ANC-501).

Treatment resistant depression is classified as a major depressive disorder (MDD) where the symptoms do not seem to go away even after attending psychological counseling sessions and taking anti-depressants. It is diagnosed when the person has not responded to at least two modes of treatment.

According to a study presented at the U.S. Psych Congress in 2019, TRD affects more than one in five patients who have been diagnosed with MDD. Because of the lack of data on the condition, patients with TRD usually often seek care for at least a year before the TRD itself is identified and confirmed.

In the United States alone, about 6.6 percent of the population have MDD. It is critical to separate TRD from MDD because the former comes with a higher healthcare costs, a greater disease burden, and more affected social and professional environment.

"ANC-501 has been shown to impact a definable subset of patients with treatment-resistant depression. We look forward to advancing this important therapy into the clinic to help these patients," said Dr. Mark Fishman, co-founder and chairman of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Boards, in a statement.

Ancora Bio is the fifth dedicated unit that Aditum Bio has built, in a bid to provide greater attention to finding ways to treat different types of illnesses and hastening their delivery to the market. To get this accomplished, the company adopts an incubator model and focuses on the translational phase of drug development, and then when this is built out, the model then spins out to enable a dedicated unit to thrive on its own team and research. 

“Our goal is to take drug candidates with enormous potential and accelerate those drugs through Phase II, helping to bring life changing treatments to patients in need more quickly,” said Dr. Fishman in another press release.

The other spinouts it created are Anteris Bio (for chronic kidney disease and other renal illnesses), Tempero Bio (for substance use disorders and anxiety), and Teres Bio (for skin diseases).

As part of its drive toward bringing medicines to a large population faster, Aditum Bio partnered with technology-based research firm TrialSpark to hasten the execution of clinical trials, which the latter specializes in. TrialSpark has a unique platform that enables users to recruit qualified patient-participants more swiftly and efficiently. Typically, it partners with doctors and clinics to create trial sites within their existing practices.

The collaboration between Aditum Bio and TrialSpark endeavors to use data and technology to launch clinical trials at a much lower cost than the traditional drug companies would invest.

Aditum Bio was founded in 2019 by ex-Novartis chief executive Joe Jimenez and Dr. Fishman, who is the former president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research.

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