Neurovance, a spin-out of Euthymics Bioscience, both based in Cambridge, MA, closed a $7 million series A1 funding round on Thursday to advance development of its EB-1020 drug for adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which it says will be less addictive than other treatments on the market. The funding round was led by existing investor Novartis Venture Fund.
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 4.1 percent of the adult U.S. population has ADHD, about 10 million people in total. Less than 10 percent of this group is getting treatment, however, says Euthymics CEO Anthony McKinney. The leading ADHD treatment is a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine (Adderall), classified as a highly addictive controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency. Consequently, the DEA sets manufacturing quotas and doctor prescribing patterns are closely monitored, leading to regular shortages of this very popular, and frequently abused, drug.
EB-1020 targets the same neurotransmitters as Adderall, but McKinney said in an interview that it has a lower risk of abuse because, unlike the popular drug, it gives limited stimulation to the pleasure center of the brain. EB-1020 is not expected to be as powerful as Adderall. “I don’t think anyone expects a non-stimulant to be as effective as these extraordinarily effective drugs,” says McKinney. Still, Neurovance believes the drug will have very good efficacy without the potential for abuse or the difficulties in access, making it a meaningful alternative.
Neurovance’s efforts to strike a better balance between efficacy and side effects with EB-1020 mirror those of its parent company, which is working on an antidepressant that boosts mood without negatively affecting patients’ weight or sexual or cognitive function. Neurovance completed a Phase 1 trial of EB-1020 last month and plans to start a Phase 2 trial for the drug next summer, with results reported in the fall, says McKinney. The goal is to eventually test the drug in children as well.
McKinney said the global market for ADHD drugs is currently $7 billion annually, with almost all of those sales concentrated in the U.S.