1:48 PM
 | 
Jul 28, 2017
 |  BioCentury  |  Product Development

Circuit logic

How BlackThorn is taking an algorithmic approach to neurological drug development

BlackThorn Therapeutics Inc. has begun the first of a series of studies that will test whether it can solve a tough problem in neurological drug development: the tendency of heterogeneity among patients with the same clinical diagnosis to mask the effects of compounds in clinical trials.

The company has developed an informatics platform called INFORM to identify the neural circuits that drive neurobehavioral symptoms, select targets expressed within those circuits, and identify patient populations likely to respond to therapies against those targets.

The platform uses algorithms to analyze structural and functional MRI imaging along with observational clinical data to determine the locations of circuits in the brain that govern behaviors.

The approach will move the company away from classical disease definitions like “depression,” and toward targeting a specific symptom that could occur in patient subgroups across several indications, for example, cognitive dysfunction or anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure).

On July 24, BlackThorn began enrollment in a Phase IIa study of lead program BTRX-246040, an antagonist of opioid related nociceptin receptor 1 (OPRL1; NOPR) licensed from Eli Lilly and Co. BlackThorn plans to develop the compound to...

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