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Autobahn Gets $32.7M for Depression Treatment

BIOTECH: Funding to Support Drug Trials

San Diego-based Autobahn Therapeutics raised $32.7 million in a funding round announced last week (Sept. 8). Proceeds from the round will be used to advance Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials of the biotech’s lead drug candidate – ABX-002.

Current shareholders ARCH Venture Partners, Cowen Healthcare Investments, BVF Partners L.P., Biogen, Bristol Myers Squibb, Pfizer Ventures, Invus, Section 32, Samsara BioCapital, Alexandria Venture Investments and GT Healthcare all participated in the round.

Autobahn’s ABX-002 targets treatment-resistant depression – or TRD — a subsegment of major depressive disorder (MDD). TRD is characterized by an inadequate response to treatment after using two or more approved medications.

Autobahn says it’s ABX-002 is a “potent and selective, brain-boosting thyroid receptor beta agonist that is anticipated to enhance serotonin activity in the brain in TRD patients.”

“Extensive clinical precedent provides strong evidence of thyroid hormone’s role in depression, suggesting that its augmentation could lead to jump-starting responses in people taking antidepressants,” a company news release announcing the funding round stated.

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ABX-002 is expected to augment antidepressant treatments by activating the beneficial effects of these drugs on monoaminergic signaling.

Autobahn plans to initiate a Phase 1 single- and multiple-ascending dose trial with ABX-002 in healthy volunteers in the second half of 2022.

Lead Asset

“Since founding, our focus has been on advancing meaningful therapeutic options for people with CNS disorders, and this latest financing allows us to continue toward execution of that mission,” said Kevin Finney, Autobahn chairman, president and chief executive officer.

Kevin Finney
Chairman, President and CEO
Autobahn Therapeutics

“We have conducted comprehensive work with our lead asset, ABX-002, and followed the science, which led us to selecting TRD as the ideal indication for clinical development,” Finney added. “Based on extensive literature supporting the role that thyroid hormone plays in depression, we have a significant opportunity to enhance the care of people with this challenging-to-treat disorder.”

“I am thrilled to have the continued backing of our exceptional investors, and for the motivation and determination of the Autobahn team that has brought us to the important point of initiating our first clinical trial in the coming months,” Finney said. “We look forward to exploring the therapeutic benefit of ABX-002 and the ultimate impact we can have on the many patients affected by CNS disorders.”

To support Autobahn’s advancement of ABX-002 for TRD, the company has also established a TRD-focused scientific advisory board (SAB), with experienced leaders in the fields of neurology, psychiatry and drug development. Board members include: Maurizio Fava, M.D., psychiatrist-in-chief, Massachusetts General Hospital; Edmund Harrigan, M.D., former senior vice president of worldwide safety and regulatory for Pfizer Inc., and former practicing neurologist; and Thomas Laughren, M.D., former director, Division of Psychiatry Products, FDA.

Third Most Common Cause of Disability Worldwide

“TRD is the third most common cause of disability worldwide, and leaves many patients suffering with helplessness, grief and increased suicidality,” said Gudarz Davar, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical officer of Autobahn.

Gudarz Davar, M.D.
Executive VP, Chief Medical Officer
CONTACT Autobahn Therapeutics

“The powerful combination of our breakthrough technology utilizing ABX-002, a selective, brain-enhanced thyroid hormone-beta agonist, compelling evidence for the use of thyroid hormone treatment to augment the actions of serotoninergic antidepressants, and collaboration with a world-class SAB offers hope that we could successfully address this significant area of unmet need,” Dr. Davar added.

Beyond TRD, Autobahn continues to leverage its proprietary brain-targeting chemistry platform to identify additional programs and targets, while also evaluating strategic opportunities to further expand its pipeline.

Based on findings from its Phase 1 study in TRD, Autobahn will evaluate the opportunities for development of ABX-002 in additional indications, including remyelination and multiple sclerosis.

The cause of Major Depressive Disorder is still not fully understood but has centered around disruption of the monoaminergic system (e.g., serotonin and norepinephrine activity).

Approved treatments that enhance monoaminergic signaling in the brain have shown beneficial effects in MDD, but many patients continue to suffer from an inadequate response to treatment that sustains their depressive symptoms and disabilities.

Autobahn Therapeutics

FOUNDED: 2017
CEO: Kevin Finney
BUSINESS: Clinical stage biotech
HEADQUARTERS: San Diego
WEBSITE: www.autobahntx.com
CONTACT: (858) 257-3418
NOTABLE: Autobahn harnesses the regenerative power of the human body to develop transformative medicines for Central Nervous System (CNS) disorders.

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