Autism Gets a Boost: Seaside Therapeutics Raises $30M To Develop First Drugs That Might Work

9/17/09Follow @xconomy

Seaside Therapeutics, a stealthy biotech startup in Cambridge, MA, has raised $30 million to further develop research from MIT neuroscientist Mark Bear that has the potential to create the first drugs that treat the underlying neurological disorder at work in patients with Fragile X syndrome and autism.

Seaside raised the money from a private, family investment firm that wishes to remain anonymous, says CEO Randy Carpenter. The company, founded in 2005, has now raised a total of $66 million from the family, the National Institutes of Health, and disease foundations like Autism Speaks and the Fragile X Research Foundation, Carpenter says. It hasn’t raised venture capital, and it hasn’t needed any, he says.

“We’re thrilled,” Carpenter says. “The end game for us is not to sell the company for a profit. The end game for us is to develop effective new therapies.”

Autism has been surging in public awareness in recent years and is now estimated to affect one out of every 150 children in the U.S. Yet autism has stumped scientists for generations, because they don’t really know what causes it, or how to classify all the various symptoms like social isolation, obsessions like staring at ceiling fans, or having trouble with language. That’s made it hard for pharmaceutical and biotech companies to even know where to begin with strategies to develop new therapies. But that’s beginning to change, partly because of work done by Bear, a co-founder of Seaside, Carpenter says.

Carpenter and Bear collaborated together earlier this decade at Sention, a Providence, RI-based company that eventually went out of business. But Carpenter says Sention had a “skunk works” project on Fragile X and autism that eventually gave birth to Seaside. The newer company is built … Next Page »

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  • Charlotte

    Oh gosh i wish to hear more about this subject as my son has autism and i hope that they will have a drug for him while he’s in school so that he has a chance to live a more productive life without the need for special assistance.

  • TJsMom

    YEAH!!! I hope this works. I would do anything to see my son grow into a successful adult. Keep up the hard work and NEVER give up!!

  • Jack

    66 mil. that’s a lot of bread I’ll bet the 30 mil. came from James Simons. I do’nt get too excited when I hear about these so called break throughs. It’ all about research for research sake I am afraid,but I will keep my fingers crossed. I have little guy on the spectrum seven years old. How about investigating the scam artists who take people’s hard earned money for chelation therapy and hyperbaric therapy. It should be outlawed. Chelation therapy is’nt for Autism treatment and is a dangerous thing to play around with, the same goes for hyperbaric chambers.

  • don

    Unfortunatly I have some of the same concerns as Jack (9/23/09 @ 2:11pm) It seems as though we try every new product that comes out, just to find out that we wasted alot of money and alot of valuable time. all too often it SEEMS that the money is more important than actually finding the cause/cure. I am hopeing this product will be different, but as the saying goes “hope for the best, and prepare for the worst”

  • Pingback: 5|25: Celebrating Five Years of Autism Science Day 12: Clinical Trials for Core Symptoms of Neurodevelopmental Disorders- Autism Speaks: Blog

  • Robert Wilson

    Finding a study for treatment is close to IMPOSSIBLE. RW

  • mattie

    i wish it works, like jack said i will keep my finger crossed. my son has autism too hope to find a drug for him.

  • Robert Wilson

    Whyizzit that the US is so far behind in modern medicine? I guess the same reason we will never see the Tata air car on our shores,GREED!