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Minerva on the verge in neuropsychiatry with two compounds close to verdict

Minerva nears make-or-break readouts from its two founding neuropsychiatry programs

Minerva Neurosciences is on the precipice of two clinical readouts that could determine whether its founding bet on a pair of neuropsychiatry compounds from Mitsubishi Tanabe has panned out. Neither molecule represents a shift from the long tradition of targeting neurotransmitter systems, but each has a differentiated target profile that could address unserved patients.

It’s also well-positioned to move a third candidate into Phase III, this time with a program that takes the opposite tack, targeting a validated mechanism and differentiating based on selectivity.

Minerva Neurosciences Inc. (NASDAQ:NERV) was founded in 2013 with licenses to two compounds from Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp. (TOKYO:4508) and funding from Index Ventures (now Medicxi). The company went public in 2014 and has a market cap of $202.5 million.

Chairman and CEO Remy Luthringer, who was an adviser to Mitsubishi and remains an adviser to Medicxi, saw opportunity for both molecules to treat symptoms left behind by marketed agents.

“We’ve had antipsychotics for 60 years. The percentage of patients with a job hasn’t changed,” said Luthringer.

Rather than aiming to treat the positive symptoms of schizophrenia, Minerva is focusing on the negative symptoms. Its lead compound roluperidone, according to Luthringer, would become the first molecule specifically for negative symptoms.

Whereas positive symptoms involve active dysfunctions such as hallucinations and delusions, negative symptoms reflect losses, with patients losing outward signs of emotion, withdrawing socially and becoming unable to take pleasure in daily life.

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