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already making progress, Harrigan says. “We have clinical evidence in the target population that, using the standard measurement for symptoms of psychosis in patients with schizophrenia, there is significant improvement,” the CEO says. He declined to offer a timeline for the drug’s development.
Harrigan follows several Pfizer vets who have taken leading roles at PureTech-backed biotechs or the venture firm itself. His former Pfizer colleague, Jeffrey Ives, is chief executive of Cambridge, MA-based Satori Pharmaceuticals, which was hatched at PureTech to develop drugs for Alzheimer’s disease. And former Pfizer R&D chief John LaMattina joined PureTech as a senior partner in late 2009.
In true PureTech fashion, Karuna is building a team with top names in pharma and academia. Steven Paul, former president of research at Lilly, is the startup’s chairman and a scientific advisor. The firm’s scientific advisory board also includes Joseph Coyle, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School; Jeffrey Conn, a professor of pharmacology and director of the drug discovery program at Vanderbilt; Anthony Grace, a professor of neuroscience, psychiatry, and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh; and Carol Tamminga, a psychiatric researcher at the University of Texas Southwestern.
For now, Karuna is operating with the support of PureTech and hasn’t raised money from outside investors, according to Elenko, who notes that there has been a lot of interest in the startup. Though technically based in PureTech’s offices, Karuna is largely a virtual operation. Its CEO, Harrigan, is still living in the New London, CT, area and the company is using contract research facilities and talent rather than running its own labs. Harrigan says he is now the firm’s only full-time employee.
We’ll provide more details on Karuna once we learn more about the firm’s science and its plans for clinical trials.
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