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.