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Swiss Biotech Gets $339M to Boost the Development of Drug Addiction Therapies


Addex Therapeutics, which develops drugs for neurological disorders, has signed an agreement with Indivior to propel its drug addiction pipeline forward.

Addex, a top biotech from Geneva, develops small molecules for the treatment of neurological disorders. Today, the company has announced that a collaboration worth up to $339M (€282M) has been signed with Indivior that will focus on progressing the biotech’s drug addiction pipeline. The agreement covers Addex’s candidate, ADX71441, and Indivior will also support research into further indications for the candidate. The news has seen Addex’s stock price rocket up by around 24%.

Addex has been around for a while now, focusing on diseases like Parkinson’s and epilepsy as well as drug addiction. However, the development of drugs in this area is particularly tricky, which could explain why the biotech almost went bankrupt. Things are beginning to look up again though, as Addex received support from the US government to work on treatments for cocaine abuse. Now, in Invidior, Addex has a partner that has experience in the development of drugs for addiction, with it moving through Phase III with its opioid addiction candidate, RBP-6000.

The activation of the gamma-aminobutyric acid subtype B (GABA-B) receptor has been used for the treatment of spasticity, spinal cord injury, and overactive bladder, but has been associated with nasty side effects. ADX71441 is a selective positive allosteric modulator (PAM) that only induces responses at the GABA-B receptor when it is activated by its natural ligand, GABA. As a result, the regular activity of the receptor is maintained, which has been proposed to reduce the likelihood of adverse effects prevent tolerance.

The prevalence of drug use in the UK.

Addex CEO, Tim Dyer feels that the company’s previous approach to partner with pharma played a part in its downturn. Rethinking its strategy has seen a change in its fortunes: “We are now running all our programs in collaboration with patient advocacy groups, academic institutions or governmental organizations. It is a great way to get access to knowledge and expertise, and lower our development costs.”

Biotech giant, Heptares, could put up serious competition with the next generation of drugs using its GPCR platform. Co-Founder and CSO, Fiona Marshall, told us that it will expand its pipeline to include candidates for drug addiction. Another company that will be hoping to pose a challenge to Addex is young Danish biotech, Saniona, which raised €3.6M for its small molecules targeting GABA, nicotine and potassium ion channels earlier this year.

The decision to collaborate with Indivior goes against Addex’s recent approach – which has managed to stabilize the company. However, I imagine the decision was not taken lightly after the company’s previous experience of pharma.

Images – docter_k / shutterstock.com; drugwise.org.uk

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