4:07 PM
 | 
Dec 21, 2017
 |  BC Innovations  |  Strategy

Ovid spreads its wings

How Ovid plans to fill out its pipeline in Orphan neurology

With its first two candidates for rare neurological disorders heading towards clinical proof of concept, Ovid Therapeutics Inc. is looking to capitalize on the experience it has gained to find compounds with differentiated pharmacology that can treat adjacent indications. Rather than relying on a unified platform, the company is building a pipeline out of case-by-case examples that use scientific rationale to solve specific symptoms highlighted by patients.

The approach is an example of directly translating back from patient to lab, a concept that is starting to gain ground in early drug development. Whereas most companies start with the biology and look for relationships with human data, Ovid uses its patient network to guide the discovery process.

“We start with a patient and ask ‘what are the symptoms, the problems the patient is being afflicted with’ and we walk back to the pathways that underlie those problems. With each program we need to understand that we have a novel insight,” said CEO Jeremy Levin.

Ovid’s strength, according to Levin, is its deep relationships with patient groups, which it couples with a lean team of experienced scientists to identify molecules for in-licensing, usually with some clinical data.

This year, it raised a $75 million IPO in May, began a Phase II trial of its first compound, OV101, and licensed its second program, TAK-935, from Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.

On Tuesday, FDA granted Fast Track designation to OV101 in Angelman syndrome. Ovid began enrolling adolescents, in addition to adults, in its Phase II STARS trial in Angelman last month, after its Phase I study showed the 5 mg dose selected for STARS led to an acceptable PK profile in 13-17 year-olds.

And two weeks ago, it received Orphan drug designation for TAK-935 in Dravet syndrome.

Both OV101 and TAK-935 use state-dependent activity to modulate neuronal targets in a pathological but not normal state.

Ovid founder, President and CSO Matthew During told BioCentury that while state-dependent activity is not necessarily a guiding principle for the company, it is certainly always on the lookout for it.

“The question is how do you preferentially target the abnormal circuits, the abnormal networks, and leave the rest of the ambient brain functions relatively untouched? That’s one of the things we look for,” he said.

“The question is how do you preferentially target the abnormal circuits, the abnormal networks, and leave the rest of the ambient brain functions relatively untouched? That’s one of the things we look for.”

Matthew During, Ovid Therapeutics

Pharmacology where you need it

Ovid obtained OV101, a small molecule agonist of GABA A receptors that contain the δ-subunit GABRD from H. Lundbeck A/S in 2015. The compound had been discontinued after Phase III trials in insomnia showed the high doses needed for that indication caused PK problems.

However, Levin and During suspected the molecule’s mechanism could be effective...

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