Modulation of the glutamate system has therapeutic potential across many disease states. Biohaven’s team consists of leading experts in glutamatergic research and drug development. Biohaven’s strategy is to advance its glutamate targeting platform by following the science across diseases where there is a strong mechanistic basis for the therapeutic modulation of this important system. The initial development plan will focus on neuropsychiatric disorders including orphan illnesses and affective disorders with high unmet medical needs.
Treatment resistant anxiety and depression remain large unmet medical needs. Typically, there are only 30% remission rates with current first line antidepressant/anxiolytic treatments which leave a majority of patients with partial response or resistant anxiety/depression. The antidepressant market in the US is over $14 billion per year.
Glutamate modulating agents represent potential novel, first-in-class treatments for neuropsychiatric disorders. Mechanistic proof of concept is already established in the clinic for this class of compounds. As first described at Yale, the non-specific glutamate antagonist ketamine conferred rapid and robust response within two days in a cohort of depressed patients characterized as chronic and resistant. Since that first report, multiple groups have replicated this finding and confirmed its efficacy. While the commercialization of ketamine is complicated by its intravenous route of administration and abuse potential, pioneering research at Yale and other centers have identified additional targets within the glutamate system that could offer therapeutic effects without the psychotomimetic and other adverse effects associated with ketamine. Based on these advances, the company has the potential to have first-to-market, oral, next generation treatments offering the following advantages over currently marketed treatments:
- Enhanced efficacy with preliminary data suggesting greater remission rates;
- Effectiveness in treatment (SSRl/SNRI) resistant depression;
- Rapid onset of action;
- Superior safety over adjunctive atypical antipsychotic treatments;
- Absence of sexual dysfunction; and weight gain.