Psylin Neurosciences—-Amylin’s Pysch-Drug Offspring—Nearing First Clinical Trial

4/27/09

There are still great voids in understanding the effects of even approved psychiatric drugs. But there’s no doubt that the business of selling antidepressants and the like can be extremely lucrative. Psylin Neurosciences—a joint venture of San Diego-based Amylin Pharmaceuticals and New York drug research firm PsychoGenics—is very much a product of both of those realities. And now Psylin has identified its first potential product, a peptide drug for depression. The company says its drug candidate could help boost peoples’ moods while providing the added benefit of helping them drop weight, which, of course, could be very lucrative.

Psylin plans to complete toxicity and other tests on the drug, dubbed “PSN0041,” with the intent of asking the FDA for permission to start an initial clinical trial in early 2010, says William Rote, the chief operating officer of Psylin, who is also a vice president of business development and New Ventures at Amylin. Amylin and PsychoGenics, which is based in Tarrytown, NY, have together committed $20 million to fund Psylin through the first clinical trial, Rote tells me.

Identifying its first drug candidate is a major step for two-year-old Psylin. Amylin (NASDAQ:AMLN), which markets peptide-based drugs exenatide (Byetta) and pramlintide (Symlin) for Type 2 diabetes, has long suspected that among its vast library of peptide hormones are some with the potential to treat psychiatric disorders. Several years before the formation of Psylin, Rotes says, Amylin contracted PsychoGenics to use its proprietary psychiatric drug screening technology to determine whether its peptides were in fact capable of treating psychological disorders. When the testing showed such potential, Amylin decided that a joint venture with PsychoGenics would be the best way for the company to move into the psychiatric drug market, Rote says.

“With each company bringing very different pieces to the puzzle,” Rote says, “the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts.”

There’s no shortage of depression treatments already on the market—which is valued at about … Next Page »

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