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Spectrum: Autism Research News

Drug merger

by  /  19 June 2012

This article is more than five years old. Autism research — and science in general — is constantly evolving, so older articles may contain information or theories that have been reevaluated since their original publication date.

Seaside Therapeutics, a small biotech company, and Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche have announced a partnership to develop treatments for fragile X syndrome and autism.

The start-up, which has been funded almost entirely by Barony Trust, has patents on the use of drugs that block a subtype of glutamate receptors, known as metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5), to treat neurodevelopmental disorders.

Under the terms of the partnership, Seaside will license these patents exclusively to Roche and will collaborate with Roche to develop and commercialize Roche’s mGluR5 drugs. The pharma giant is enrolling people with fragile X syndrome in a mid-stage clinical trial of its own mGluR5 antagonist, known as RG7090.

According to a report in the New York Times, “Seaside will halt development of its own mGluR5 antagonist, which it licensed from Merck, and will instead receive royalties on sales of Roche’s drug.”

Seaside will retain rights to compounds that target glutamate by a different mechanism. These include its experimental drug arbaclofen, or STX209, which dampens excitatory glutamate signaling by triggering an inhibitory signaling pathway in the brain. Arbaclofen is also in clinical trials for autism and fragile X, and Roche will help fund those trials.