ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ACAD), a biopharmaceutical company focused on innovative treatments that address unmet medical needs in neurological and related central nervous system disorders, today announced that it will receive funding from Fast Forward, LLC, a not-for-profit organization established by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and EMD Serono, a subsidiary of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. This funding will support ACADIA research, to be conducted in collaboration with Dr. Rhonda Voskuhl of UCLA, directed at using AC-186, ACADIA’s proprietary and selective estrogen receptor (ER)-beta agonist, as a new approach to the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS).
“We are grateful for the commitment by Fast Forward and EMD Serono, which will enable us to expand on promising research in our ER-beta program and broaden its application to MS,” said Uli Hacksell, Ph.D., ACADIA’s Chief Executive Officer. “We also are excited to collaborate on this research with Dr. Voskuhl, Professor and Program Director at the UCLA Department of Neurology, who is a recognized expert in MS and neuroprotection.”
Currently, there are multiple immunology-based, disease-modifying drugs approved for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS. In contrast, no drug is currently approved for the treatment of progressive forms of MS and no currently available drugs were developed to specifically target neurodegeneration in MS. A new MS drug with neuroprotective properties would fill this major unmet medical need. Studies in animal models of MS suggest that selective ER-beta receptor agonists provide neuroprotective effects while avoiding stimulation of ER-alpha receptors, which are believed to mediate toxicity. In this new program, AC-186, a selective ER-beta agonist discovered by ACADIA, will be evaluated to further test this hypothesis.
Fast Forward and EMD Serono will provide up to $545,000 to support preclinical studies with AC-186 designed to further evaluate pharmacokinetics and its therapeutic potential in preclinical models of MS. This funding will be provided by the parties’ Accelerating Commercial Development Fund, which is allocated to for-profit entities and is designed to accelerate the development of research discoveries into new or improved therapies for people with MS.
“We are pleased to partner with ACADIA and UCLA on this innovative approach to targeting MS neurodegeneration,” said Dr. Timothy Coetzee, Chief Research Officer at the National MS Society and Fast Forward. “This is another example of our steadfast commitment to seek out and support promising new therapeutic approaches that address critical unmet needs and could improve the lives of patients with MS.”
About Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, inflammatory condition of the central nervous system and is the most common, non-traumatic, disabling neurological disease in young adults. It is estimated that approximately two million people have MS worldwide. While symptoms can vary, the most common symptoms of MS include blurred vision, numbness or tingling in the limbs and problems with strength and coordination. The relapsing forms of MS are the most common.
About Fast Forward, LLC
Fast Forward, LLC, established by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as part of a comprehensive approach to MS research and treatment, focuses on speeding promising research discoveries towards commercial drug development. Fast Forward accelerates the development of treatments for MS by connecting university-based MS research with private-sector drug development and by funding small biotechnology/pharmaceutical companies to develop innovative new MS therapies and repurpose FDA-approved drugs as new treatments for MS. For more information, please visit www.fastforward.org.
About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society
The National MS Society addresses the challenges of each person affected by MS by funding cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating professional education, collaborating with MS organizations around the world, and providing programs and services designed to help people with MS and their families move their lives forward. The Society is dedicated to achieving a world free of MS. Join the movement at www.nationalMSsociety.org.
About ACADIA Pharmaceuticals
ACADIA is a biopharmaceutical company focused on innovative treatments that address unmet medical needs in neurological and related central nervous system disorders. ACADIA has a pipeline of product candidates led by pimavanserin, which is in Phase III development as a potential first-in-class treatment for Parkinson's disease psychosis. ACADIA also has clinical-stage programs for chronic pain and glaucoma in collaboration with Allergan, Inc. and two advanced preclinical programs directed at Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders. All product candidates are small molecules that emanate from discoveries made at ACADIA. ACADIA maintains a website at www.acadia-pharm.com to which ACADIA regularly posts copies of its press releases as well as additional information and through which interested parties can subscribe to receive email alerts.
Statements in this press release that are not strictly historical in nature are forward-looking statements. These statements include but are not limited to statements related to the progress and timing of ACADIA’s drug discovery and development programs, either alone or with a partner, the potential of and the benefits to be derived from product candidates, in each case including AC-186, and, specifically, the neuroprotective benefits of AC-186 for MS patients, the expansion or broadening of ACADIA’s ER-beta program and the monies to be received to support the development of AC-186. These statements are only predictions based on current information and expectations and involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Actual events or results may differ materially from those projected in any of such statements due to various factors, including the risks and uncertainties inherent in drug discovery, development and commercialization, and collaborations with others, and the fact that past results of clinical trials may not be indicative of future trial results. For a discussion of these and other factors, please refer to ACADIA’s annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2011 as well as ACADIA’s subsequent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof. This caution is made under the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All forward-looking statements are qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement and ACADIA undertakes no obligation to revise or update this press release to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof, except as required by law.