A Boston-area startup emerged from the depths of stealth mode today touting a $7 million financing round that will help it move toward clinical trials of a drug that would treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) without addictive side effects.
EB-1020, Neurovance Inc.’s lead drug candidate for ADHD, acts on three neurotransmitters: norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin. Other behavioral disorder drugs act on these chemicals too, but Neurovance says its drug does so in a way that wouldn’t cause it to become addictive — a problem with many of the stimulants prescribed for the disorder.
The $7 million round, which the company is considering a series A1, was led by existing investor Novartis Venture Fund — a likely investor given that Novartis is the maker of ADHD drugs Focalin and Ritalin.
All other existing investors joined the round, including Venture Investors, H&Q Healthcare Investors and H&Q Life Sciences Investors, GBS Venture Partners, State of Wisconsin Investment Board and Timothy Barberich, a board member of Euthymics Bioscience Inc., the company Neurovance spun out of. The round follows a $478,000 round closed earlier this year.
Neurovance says it recently completed a phase 1 clinical trial in which its drug was well tolerated in healthy subjects. President and CEO Anthony McKinney said in a statement that a phase 2a pilot study in adult ADHD patients is planned for next year.
An estimated 2.7 million Americans have prescriptions for ADHD drugs that also include Eli Lilly’s Strattera, Shire Pharmaceuticals’ Vyvanse and Adderall, and Janssen’s Concerta. Several recent market reports note that the adult ADHD market is significantly less penetrated than the pediatric market and has room for growth, even as patents on some of the most prescribed drugs expire over the next several years.
Drug companies targeting the ADHD market may also benefit from new diagnostic tests being developed, as some claim ADHD has a low diagnosis and treatment rate (although there’s plenty of criticism to that claim).
Neurovance shares a staff, website and office with Euthymics, which is developing a triple reuptake inhibitor as a drug for depression. Several members of that staff were previously involved in the development of Prozac, Cymbalta, Lunesta, Strattera and Zyprexa.