Finding opportunity in adversity is critical to running a sustainable company. CoCensys Inc. (COCN, Irvine, Calif.) is trying to do just that after partner Novartis Pharma AG (Basel, Switzerland) said it would drop development of COCN's ACEA 1021 NMDA-receptor antagonist for stroke and head injury.

ACEA 1021 is a quinoxiline dione that competes with glycine for binding NMDA receptors, at a separate site from glutamate binding, to prevent the glutamate-induced calcium influx that results in nerve damage during stroke. The compound was originally licensed to Ciba-Geigy (now part of Novartis) in 1994 from Acea Pharmaceuticals Inc., at the same time that COCN acquired Acea and the rights to 1021 (see BioCentury May 23, 1994).