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AbbVie, Gilgamesh Pharmaceuticals enter psychiatric drug deal

AbbVie will pay Gilgamesh $65 million upfront and as much as $1.95 billion in aggregate option fees and milestones in the future.
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This story was republished with permission from Crain’s Chicago and written by Katherine Davis. 

As pharmaceutical giant AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV) continues its search for a new blockbuster drug, the company has agreed to pay close to $2 billion for new psychiatric medications being developed by New York-based biotech company Gilgamesh Pharmaceuticals.

North Chicago-based AbbVie and Gilgamesh have entered into a licensing deal to research and develop several drugs for various psychiatric disorders, the companies announced today. Gilgamesh is currently developing therapies to treat bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety, among other conditions.

AbbVie, which already has a growing psychiatry portfolio, is paying Gilgamesh $65 million upfront and as much as $1.95 billion in aggregate option fees and milestones in the future. Under the agreement, AbbVie will lead development and commercialization activities.

AbbVie’s stock was up less than 1% today, trading at about $161.

Gilgamesh is using next-generation drug compounds known as neuroplastogens target mechanisms, which have shown potential to provide significant clinical benefits. Neuroplastogens also minimize the challenging effects seen by existing psychiatric drugs, which sometimes induce psychoactive effects, such as hallucinations, AbbVie said in a statement.

“Significant unmet need remains for people living with psychiatric disorders and we know that to innovate in this field, we need to pursue novel technologies and approaches,” Jonathon Sedgwick, senior vice president and global head of discovery research at AbbVie, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with Gilgamesh’s world-class team to advance the development of novel neuroplastogens and pave the way for additional treatment approaches in psychiatry.”

On its website, Gilgamesh describes itself as developing drugs that move away from “symptom management” and instead focus on “rapid-acting and long-lasting therapies.” The biotech company says its methods combine medical chemistry with an artificial intelligence-powered discovery and translational platform.

Gilgamesh has four drug candidates in its development pipeline, according to its website, two of which are in Phase 2 trials. Both of those drugs are being tested to treat depression, among other mood disorders.

The Gilgamesh deal is just the latest licensing deal AbbVie’s inked in a string of recent deals and acquisitions. AbbVie is focused on bolstering its drug pipeline following its former best-selling rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira losing patent protection. As copycats enter the market, Humira sales and market share are declining.

In April, AbbVie agreed to pay French biopharmaceutical company Medincell $35 million upfront and $1.9 billion over time to develop a set of innovative injectable therapies. Earlier in the year, AbbVie agreed to pay up to $1.44 billion in two option and license agreements with Umoja Biopharma to develop CAR T-cell therapy candidates.

AbbVie is also acquiring whole companies. Deals include the $10.1 billion purchase of ImmunoGen, which was finalized in the first quarter, and a separate $8.7 billion deal to acquire Cerevel Therapeutics, which is expected to close later this year.

The post AbbVie, Gilgamesh Pharmaceuticals enter psychiatric drug deal appeared first on Green Market Report.

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