Monday, April 6, 2009

Suven all set to raise funds for Alzheimer trials

MUMBAI: Suven Life Sciences' molecule for Alzheimer's disease will soon enter phase two trials. The Hyderabad-based contract research company is in
the process of raising funds for the trials through a combination of debt, equity and strategic partner, the managing director told ET.

"The phase two trials will cost the company $20 million. The strategic partner we are looking at could be either a private equity (PE) player or a pharmaceutical company that wants to in-license the molecule later," said MD Venkat Jasti.

The company is expected to announce a strategic partner in the next six months when the company will commence the phase two trials. Typically, phase one trials are done on human beings for the first time on a smaller scale.

The Alzheimer molecule (SUVN-502) has completed phase one clinical trials on 67 patients in Switzerland and will start the registration for the toxicology study in May. "There was not one adverse event reported in the phase one trials. We plan to start the phase two trials by the end of this year in US and Europe. India will come later on as getting approval to conduct trials takes longer here," Mr Jasti added.

Also, since the US and Europe had the largest number of people suffering from Alzheimer's, trials were tested on the people here.

Suven will register 500 people globally for the phase two studies which measures the cognitive memory of patients. The molecule aims to increase the level of chemicals that are required for cognitive memory. "With our molecule we hope to give people suffering from Alzheimer's, a 3-year horizon when compared to the 9-10 month that current drugs offer," Mr Jasti said.

Alzheimer’s disease which causes memory loss, impaired judgement and loss of language skills, has a larger untapped market. The disease, one of the most common degenerative, affects 26 million people globally at present and is expected to quadruple by 2050.

The market for such drugs, is expected to exceed $5 billion by 2012, from $3 billion in 2006. The company also has a tie-up with global pharma company Eli Lilly to identify targets for two central nervous system diseases, Mr Jasti said,

"This is our second concept-to-clinical tie-up with them. The first project was put on hold after we identified some targets due to priorities. This collaboration however is a bigger one where we are identifying targets to tackle two different diseases but as a single dose. We will identify the leads and the candidate and hand it over at the clinical stage. There is a huge unmet medical need in this area and we expect our first milestone from this partnership this quarter. We will also get royalties for up to 10 years if the molecules reach the market."

Suven is also working on molecules in the areas of schizophrenia, dementia, Parkinson's, depression and obesity. Two of its molecules for schizophrenia and obesity will enter clinical trials this year and the company plans to move two molecules every year into clinical trials.

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