Langer lab spinout Lyndra raises $60.5M in bid to replace existing HIV, schizophrenia, opioid abuse treatments
Two months after unveiling Phase II data for their long-acting schizophrenia pill, Lyndra Therapeutics has raised a $60.5 million Series C to push it through a pivotal trial.
The new round, led by the VC arm of insurance giant AIG, brings Lyndra’s total funding to over $160 million as they look to reformulate existing daily pills into weekly pills. It will be immediately used to fund a Phase III study for LYN-005, a weekly form of the decades-old antipsychotic risperidone.
Lyndra CEO Trish Hurter argued that for many diseases, such as HIV and schizophrenia, the reformulation approach could have a larger impact than rival companies that are trying to invent wholly new molecules or biologics.
“In many diseases, it’s not a lack of good molecules, it’s a lack of adherence,” Hurter told Endpoints News. In schizophrenia, researchers’ solution has been long-acting injectables. “The problem is patients don’t like injectables,” she said.
The slow-release technology emerged out of the MIT lab of Bob Langer, the same scientist responsible for a host of different delivery technologies, including major contributions to the LNPs now used to deliver mRNA Covid-19 vaccines. Polaris provided early funding and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation poured millions in, seeing its potential to help prevent malaria and HIV by turning daily meds — which patients often struggle to take for a variety of societal factors — into weekly or biweekly meds.
In their six years of existence, they’ve added an Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes drug and an ambitious effort to develop a once-a-month birth control pill. They’ve teamed with Gilead on HIV, joining what has become a broad race with Merck and GSK to develop alternatives to the daily pills that have been the hallmark of HIV treatment for two decades.
Schizophrenia, though, is the furthest along and Hurter said they decided as they raised the Series C that they would commercialize the drug themselves.
Because it’s based on an already approved molecule, Lyndra will have an easier and cheaper Phase III trial, Hurter said. They don’t have to prove the drug is effective, only that their weekly tablet has similar levels and properties in the blood as the daily pill. And to handle the launch, they’ve hired a commercial officer: Abigail Jenkins, former vice president at Emergent BioSolutions’ now troubled vaccines unit.
Hurter said the drug’s relatively small patient population makes it feasible for a small company to commercialize it. “It’s not as if anyone had much enthusiasm for the drug we’re replacing,” she said.
They’ll look to turn their schizophrenia drug into a larger toehold in central nervous system conditions. One of their next big therapies is, in collaboration with the NIH, a weekly form of methadone for patients recovering from opioid addiction.
“Imagine trying to visit the clinic every day, to take a treatment,” Hurter said. “It’s really hard for someone to get their life back on track.”