Mike McCully, Gate Neurosciences CEO

Re­cent­ly out-of-stealth neu­ro­science out­fit un­veils cash raise, more de­tails on Lil­ly, North­west­ern pro­grams

Gate Neu­ro­sciences, well, came out of the gate in late Au­gust with a line­up of drugs, known as NM­DA re­cep­tor mod­u­la­tors, for ma­jor de­pres­sive dis­or­der and schiz­o­phre­nia that it li­censed from Ab­b­Vie.

It al­so shared that Ab­b­Vie and Eli Lil­ly were share­hold­ers. But all oth­er de­tails, it kept to it­self.

In its most re­cent up­date, Gate dis­closed that it raised $25 mil­lion, with fund­ing com­ing from In­no­vi­va, Lu­son Bioven­tures, Biocross­roads, Thor­nAp­ple Cap­i­tal and oth­ers. In­no­vi­va is the Ther­a­vance spin­out that once held roy­al­ty rights to GSK’s in­haler Trel­e­gy, be­fore both it and Ther­a­vance sold those rights to Roy­al­ty Phar­ma for $1.3 bil­lion up­front.

Gate al­so un­veiled more de­tails on its two ad­di­tion­al li­cens­ing deals from its oth­er Big Phar­ma backer, Eli Lil­ly, and North­west­ern Uni­ver­si­ty. The pro­gram it li­censed from Lil­ly in­cludes pre­clin­i­cal mGlu2/3 re­cep­tor an­tag­o­nists, which have an­ti­de­pres­sant ef­fects that are sim­i­lar to ke­t­a­mine. In June, cit­ing Covid chal­lenges, tiny Swiss biotech Ad­dex Ther­a­peu­tics ter­mi­nat­ed a Phase II/III study for Parkin­son’s on its neg­a­tive al­losteric mod­u­la­tor mGlu5 (which in­di­rect­ly blocks ac­cess to the re­cep­tor by chang­ing the shape of the bind­ing site, where­as an­tag­o­nists di­rect­ly block the site). Ad­dex al­so has a mGlu2 pos­i­tive mod­u­la­tor it is de­vel­op­ing in part­ner­ship with J&J.

Gate is al­so study­ing the class of drugs in sleep dis­or­ders.

And with North­west­ern, it is work­ing on can­di­dates tar­get­ed at the in­sulin-like growth fac­tor 2 re­cep­tor, known as IGF2R for short, in cog­ni­tive dis­or­ders.

Gate was formed in 2020 by the for­mer crew of Nau­rex — a biotech that was ac­quired by Al­ler­gan in 2015, which was sub­se­quent­ly ac­quired by Ab­b­Vie in 2019. And the Gate group jumped at the op­por­tu­ni­ty to li­cense their lega­cy Nau­rex drugs, the NM­DA re­cep­tor mod­u­la­tors, from Ab­b­Vie af­ter it ac­quired Al­ler­gan.

In a pre­vi­ous in­ter­view with End­points News, Gate CEO Mike Mc­Cul­ly not­ed that Gate’s mod­u­la­tors — zelquistinel and api­mostinel, which he dubs the “-stinels” — tar­get down­stream of cur­rent­ly ap­proved NM­DA re­cep­tor an­tag­o­nists for de­pres­sion, such as J&J’s Spra­va­to and Ax­some’s Au­veli­ty.

Gate ex­pects to read out topline re­sults from its Phase I study on api­mostinel in healthy vol­un­teers in the first quar­ter of next year and from its mid-stage study on zelquistinel in pa­tients with ma­jor de­pres­sive dis­or­der in mid-2024.

Vac­cine doc­u­ments, young lead­ers and mar­ket tur­moil: End­points' 10 biggest sto­ries of 2022

It’s been a volatile year in the world of biopharma. Market declines reset M&A valuations, and may be beginning to tempt bigger buyers back into dealmaking. Russia’s war in Ukraine disrupted drug sales and clinical trials. A new generation of young biotech leaders emerged in the Endpoints 20(+1) Under 40. And as capital runs dry in a tough environment for raising new funds, companies big and small are taking a look at their headcounts and operations for ways to make it through lean times.

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Tom Riga, Spectrum Pharmaceuticals CEO

Spec­trum im­plodes af­ter a harsh pub­lic slap­down and now a CRL from Richard Paz­dur

The FDA has gone out of its way several times to flatten any expectations for Spectrum’s lung cancer drug poziotinib, including slamming the regulatory door in the biotech’s face four years ago when the their executive crew came calling for a breakthrough drug designation and encouragement from the oncology wing of the FDA.

That stinging early rebuke pointed straight down the path to a corrosive in-house agency review of Spectrum’s attempt to land an accelerated approval for the oral EGFR TKI and a public whipping that included a classic takedown by none other than Richard Pazdur, who slammed the company for “poor drug development” that led to confusion over the dose needed for a slice of NSCLC patients harboring HER2 exon 20 insertion mutations.

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Big Phar­ma's Twit­ter ex­o­dus; Mer­ck wa­gers $1.35B on buy­out; $3.5M gene ther­a­py; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

As you start planning for #JPM23, we hope you will consider joining Endpoints News for our live and virtual events. For those who are celebrating Thanksgiving, we hope you are enjoying the long weekend with loved ones. And if you’re not — we’ll see you next week!

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Robert Califf, FDA commissioner (Jose Luis Magana/AP Images)

Fourth ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval in Duchenne? Sarep­ta gets pri­or­i­ty re­view for gene ther­a­py amid FDA scruti­ny

Sarepta is once again on the accelerated approval path for a Duchenne drug, picking up a priority review Monday morning.

The FDA granted the accelerated review to SRP-9001, Sarepta announced Monday, which would become the biotech’s fourth Duchenne drug if approved. Much like SRP-9001 will do, each of the previous three therapies went through the accelerated approval pathway. But unlike the others, SRP-9001 is a gene therapy.

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Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO (John Thys/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Pfiz­er CEO un­der fire from UK watch­dog over vac­cine com­ments — re­port

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told the BBC last December that he had “no doubt in my mind that the benefits, completely, are in favor” of vaccinating 5- to 11-year-olds for Covid-19. Almost a year later, those comments have reportedly landed him in trouble with a UK pharma watchdog.

Children’s advocacy group UsForThem filed a complaint with the UK’s Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA) last year accusing Bourla of making “disgracefully misleading” statements during the BBC interview, including one that “Covid in schools is thriving.” At the time, UK regulators had not yet cleared the vaccine for the 5 to 11 age group, though the vaccine did have a positive opinion from the EMA’s human medicines committee.

Sanofi's new headquarters, La Maison Sanofi, in Paris (Credit: Luc Boegly)

Sanofi wel­comes 500 staffers to new Paris HQ af­ter €30M ren­o­va­tion

When Paul Hudson took the helm at Sanofi back in 2019, he promised to reinvent the pharma giant — including its Paris headquarters. This week, the company set up shop in new “state-of-the-art” digs.

La Maison Sanofi, as the new HQ is called, is officially open for business, Hudson announced on Monday. The 9,000-square-meter (just under 97,000-square-foot) space accommodates 500 employees across the company’s government and global support functions teams, including finance, HR, legal and corporate affairs — and it was built with environmental sustainability and hybrid work in mind.

Sta­da to place $50M+ in­vest­ment in a new fa­cil­i­ty in Ro­ma­nia

While Romania may conjure up images of vast mountain ranges and tales of medieval kings, one generic manufacturer has broken ground on a new facility there.

German pharma company Stada said Monday that it has placed a €50 million ($51.9 million) investment into a 100,000 square-meter (1.08 million square-foot) site in Turda, Romania, a city in the Southeast of the country. According to a Stada spokesperson in an email to Endpoints News, the company has developed only 281,500 square feet of the site so far.

Rachael Rollins (Charles Krupa/AP Images)

US seeks jail time for co-CEO of New Eng­land com­pound­ing cen­ter af­ter dead­ly 2012 fun­gal out­break

The US attorney for the district of Massachusetts late last week called on the state’s district court to sentence the former co-owner of the now-defunct New England Compounding Center to 18 months of jail time for his role in the center’s quality deviations that led to more than 100 people dead from a fungal meningitis outbreak.

Gregory Conigliaro was convicted of conspiring with more than a dozen others at NECC to deceive the FDA and misrepresent the fact that the center was only dispensing drugs pursuant to patient-specific prescriptions.

FDA tells Catal­ent to fix is­sues at two man­u­fac­tur­ing sites on its own

The CDMO Catalent will have to fix issues at two manufacturing plants in the US and Europe that were subject to inspections by the FDA this summer, giving the company room to correct the issues without facing further regulatory action.

The FDA gave Catalent a “voluntary action indicated” response to two inspections at the contract manufacturer’s site in Bloomington, IN, and Brussels, Belgium. Fixing the issues on its own is a preferable outcome to facing an “official action indicated” response, meaning that an official warning would be sent out or a sit-down with the FDA would be required.

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