Seaport Therapeutics has entered the neuropsychiatry treatment space after emerging with $100m from a financing round.

ARCH Venture Partners and Sofinnova Investments co-led the Series A round with participation from Third Rock Ventures and PureTech Health, according to a 9 April press release.

Behind the newly launched company created by PureTech are execs from Karuna Therapeutics – the biopharma acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) for $14bn in December 2023. Former Karuna CEO Steven Paul will join Seaport as chair while Daphne Zohar has left her role as CEO of PureTech to take up the same position at the US startup. 

Seaport has developed a drug platform called Glyph that harnesses the lymphatic system to avoid first-pass metabolism, a pharmacological phenomenon that sees medication being broken down in the liver before reaching other parts of the body. This can subsequently lead to low bioavailability and potential side effects in the liver such as hepatotoxicity.

The biopharma says its pipeline products avoid this limitation by acting like dietary fats and being absorbed through the lymphatic system. Seaport states its molecules have enhanced oral bioavailability and that its platform could also be applied to other therapeutic compounds that normally have high first-pass metabolism.

Glyph has given rise to Seaport’s most advanced candidate, SPT-300 – an oral formulation of the neurosteroid allopregnanolone. The asset is currently in a Phase IIa trial for the treatment of anxious depression. Seaport’s other main candidates are SPT-320, an oral formulation of the antidepressant agomelatine, and SPT-348, a prodrug of a non-hallucinogenic neuroplastogen. SPT-320 is in development for the treatment of generalised anxiety disorder while SPT-348 is designed to treat mood and other neuropsychiatric disorders.

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Seaport’s CEO Daphne Zohar said: “We are dedicated to bringing first and best-in-class medicines to those that are suffering from depression, anxiety and other neuropsychiatric disorders.”

BMS gained a big share in the neuropsychiatric treatment space with its Karuna megadeal, adding the company’s highly anticipated schizophrenia candidate KarXT (xanomeline-trospium) to its portfolio. The muscarinic agonist has demonstrated positive results from Phase III trials and is currently under US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review. The drug is forecast to see blockbuster sales of $2.2bn by 2029, according to analysis by GlobalData.

GlobalData is the parent company of Pharmaceutical Technology.

BMS was not the only big pharma to spend big on neuropsychiatry-focused companies last year. AbbVie acquired Cerevel Therapeutics for $8.7bn in December 2023, the main asset in Cerevel’s pipeline being a schizophrenia treatment in clinical trials.

The global market for major depressive disorder treatments is forecast to reach $16.2bn by 2029 while the global market for schizophrenia treatments is estimated to generate $21.2bn in sales by 2031, according to analysis by GlobalData.