Neurosterix emerges with $63m for neuroscience pipeline


A brand new biotech – Neurosterix – has been formed to take forward neuroscience programmes that originated at Switzerland’s Addex Therapeutics, including a drug for schizophrenia.

Neurosterix has stepped out of the shadows with $63 million from a first-round financing led by life sciences investment group Perceptive Advisors that will be used for a portfolio of allosteric modulators for neurological disorders.

Tim Dyer
CEO Tim Dyer

Addex is getting a CHF 5 million ($5.5 million) payment in return for the allosteric modulator candidates and discovery platform and will hold a 20% stake in the new company, which will be led by Addex chief executive Tim Dyer.

Allosteric modulators bind to their target receptor outside of the active site, where the natural ligand and traditional drugs operate, and have emerged as a way to target receptors that have proved challenging with conventional approaches, particularly for neurological indications.

Geneva-based Neurosterix’s lead drug candidate is a selective muscarinic M4 positive allosteric modulator (PAM) with potential as a treatment for schizophrenia, and it will also work on a metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 7 negative allosteric modulator (NAM). Both are in preclinical development.

Other companies working on PAMs include Cerevel Therapeutics, which is running two phase 2 trials of an M4 PAM called emraclidine for schizophrenia and recently agreed to an $8.7 billion takeover by AbbVie – as well as Sage Therapeutics/Biogen, which got FDA approval last year for GABAA receptor PAM Zurzuvae (zuranolone) as a treatment for post-partum depression.

Another rival is Karuna Therapeutics, acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb for $14 billion last month, which is waiting for an FDA decision later this year on its schizophrenia candidate KarXT (xanomeline tartrate/trospium chloride), which combines an M4 antagonist with an M1 agonist to reduce side effects.

Neurosterix isn’t providing details of the remainder of its pipeline, but Addex confirmed that it has retained rights to various PAM candidates including ADX71149, an mGlu2 PAM currently in a phase 2 study for the treatment of epilepsy, which is partnered with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharma unit.

Addex is also holding on to a GABAB PAM programme for substance use disorder licensed to Indivior, follow-up drugs in the same class with the potential to treat chronic cough, and mGlu5 NAM dipaglurant, which is being prepared for phase 2 testing as a therapy for dyskinesia associated with Parkinson’s disease and for post-stroke/traumatic brain injury (TBI) recovery. 

Dyer said the launch of Neurosterix is “an important validation of the Addex allosteric modulator drug discovery technology platform and provides the resources to accelerate development of important preclinical assets, including the M4 PAM and mGlu7 [NAM] programmes, into the clinic.”