Neuroscience Company Uncloaks to Fight Chronic Pain, Depression and More

Bob Azelby_Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Bob Azelby, CEO of Eliem Therapeutics, pictured above. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Eliem Therapeutics emerged from stealth mode with $80 million in financing that will be used to develop therapeutics aimed at treating neuronal excitability disorders such as chronic pain, depression, epilepsy and anxiety.

The disorders Eliem is targeting have a wide patient population across the globe. Seattle-based Eliem, which was officially founded in 2019 by RA Capital Management, is advancing two clinical-stage assets for neurological diseases. ETX-810, an investigational new chemical entity for chronic pain, acts via the palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) pathway. It is being evaluated in two Phase IIa trials in lumbosacral radicular pain (chronic sciatica) and diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain.

The second asset, ETX-155, an investigational next-generation neuroactive steroid that acts as a GABAA positive allosteric modulator. ETX-155 is being evaluated in Phase I studies with plans for 2021 trial initiations in multiple indications, including major depressive disorder (MDD), hormone-related mood disorders, and focal onset seizures (FOS).

In addition to its two clinical candidates, Eliem also has a handful of preclinical candidates. The company’s lead preclinical program is a Kv7.2/3 channel opener. This mechanism has been validated through regulatory approvals of multiple first-generation Kv7.2/3 channel openers for the treatment of epilepsy and pain. These molecules showed powerful clinical efficacy but subsequently had to be withdrawn from the market due to significant safety issues. 

Eliem intends harness the efficacy of the Kv7.2/3 channel mechanism while significantly improving the safety and tolerability profile. The company expects to nominate a clinical candidate in the second half of 2021.

Eliem Chief Executive Officer Bob Azelby, who most recently served as CEO for Alder BioPharmaceuticals, said most people who deal with chronic pain and other neuronal excitability disorders face a difficult struggle to manage their condition with currently available treatments.

“For many of these patients, the inability to execute day-to-day activities is devastating, and living a normal life can seem out of reach. We are confident that our highly experienced and dedicated team is developing treatments that can achieve meaningfully better clinical outcomes for patients, offering them the opportunity to lead the lives they were meant to live,” Azelby said in a statement.

Eliem’s leadership team brings decades of experience to the startup. Other members of the leadership team at Eliem include cofounder Valerie Morisset, who serves as head of R&D and chief scientific officer; Erin Lavelle, chief operating and financial officer; James Bucher, general counsel; Amy Chappell, chief medical officer; and Jo Palmer-Phillips, chief development officer.

“The Eliem management team knows how to develop safe and well-tolerated drugs that work; and understands how to efficiently bring those treatments to patients in need," Andrew Levin, managing director at RA Capital Management, and co-founder and chairman of the board of directors at Eliem said in a statement. "With an exceptionally strong and experienced leadership team, and promising preclinical and clinical data, the company has a real opportunity to transform clinically validated mechanisms of action into 'best-in-class' medicines."

The $80 million in financing was supported by RA Capital Management, Access Biotechnology, and Intermediate Capital Group.

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