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maintain the patents themselves, in their spare time. Fogel’s experience with Somaxon made him reluctant to seek out another partner. “My concern was that if I licensed it out, I would lose control,” he says. Fogel approached several VCs, but was continually turned down for funding. “They said, ‘fascinating market, great patent position, but where’s your team?'” Fogel recalls. “They said, ‘You’re a Harvard professor—what do you know about developing drugs?'”
Then a relative of one of Fogel’s patients introduced him to William Kerns, partner and CEO of Waltham, MA-based Accellient Partners, a drug-development consulting firm. The two co-founded Synchroneuron and operated it as a virtual company, drawing from the expertise of Accellient’s staff of physicians and PhDs. Accellient also introduced Synchroneuron to potential funding sources, eventually locking up the deal with Morningside, a Hong Kong-based investment group.
Kerns, who is Synchroneuron’s acting CEO, says the company has not yet determined whether acamprosate will be its lead development candidate or if it will go forward with an entirely new molecule. The company has been conducting animal trials to identify new formulation opportunities, he says. Synchroneuron expects to identify a lead drug candidate and begin Phase 1 studies by mid-2012. If all goes well, Phase 2 studies should start in the first quarter of 2013.
Fogel adds that while Synchroneuron’s main focus will be the TD compound, the company has identified future opportunities in other movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease and Tourette Syndrome. Still, he says, the opportunity in TD alone “is substantial.” Although no national surveys have been done to measure the size of the market, he says, the number of patients with the condition “could be as high as a million.”
For Fogel, the Series A marks a happy ending to the long and often frustrating story of his quest to help patients with TD. “This has been a considerable strain for my wife and me, but we believed eventually the value would come out,” he says. “It’s satisfying to see it come to fruition.”
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