EpiVario Secures Exclusive Worldwide License for Novel Technologies and Drugs for Memory-Related Psychiatric Diseases from University of Pennsylvania

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Company acquires full rights, in all fields, for novel drug to treat memory-related psychiatric disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

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“Securing this exclusive license was a key element in our strategy to be the first to bring this treatment to market with strong patent protection,” said Thomas Kim, CEO of EpiVario.

EpiVario, an early-stage drug discovery and development company, today announced it has secured an exclusive worldwide license, in all fields, for novel technologies and drug candidates for a wide range of memory-related psychiatric disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Alzheimer’s disease, and alcohol and drug addiction.

The license agreement, executed by EpiVario and the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), covers patents related to the acetyl-CoA synthetase (ACSS2) gene and its role in memory-related psychiatric conditions. EpiVario and Penn also executed a sponsored research agreement, which funds the lab of Dr. Shelley Berger, the Daniel S. Och University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania and one of EpiVario’s co-founders. Through this agreement, EpiVario will have access to additional understanding of ACSS2 and potentially other modulators of its activity.

“Securing this exclusive license was a key element in our strategy to be the first to bring this treatment to market with strong patent protection,” said Thomas Kim, CEO of EpiVario. “We look forward to working with Dr. Berger and her research team to continue to hit milestones on our way towards Phase I clinical trials in 2020.”

EpiVario treats memory-related disorders at the source. By inhibiting the non-essential ACSS2 enzyme, it disassociates the stress response linked to traumatic events and can prevent the process of negative memory formation. The treatment’s proof-of-concept has already been established in animals through research on ACSS2 knockdown mice, which was conducted by EpiVario co-founders Philipp Mews, Ph.D. and Shelley Berger, Ph.D. and published in Nature in June of 2017.

“The Penn Center for Innovation is pleased to partner with Dr. Shelley Berger and EpiVario to help develop new therapeutic solutions for those suffering with brain disorders such as PTSD,” said John Swartley, Associate Vice Provost for Research and Managing Director of PCI at the University of Pennsylvania. “The experienced team at EpiVario brings a suite of complementary R&D skills and capabilities to this collaborative program with Dr. Berger and Penn Medicine.”

There are currently 26 million people living with PTSD in the United States and 296 million worldwide, and it is estimated that eight percent of the U.S. population experiences PTSD at some point during their lifetime. The U.S. government spends an estimated $2 billion annually to help treat PTSD in the veteran population, and the global market for PTSD treatment is expected to reach nearly $10.7 billion by 2026.

Current PTSD treatments are focused on targets that include the NK1 receptor, prohormones, or the serotonin–dopamine activity modulator, but have failed to show real efficacy, only minimizing frequency and severity of symptoms. By targeting the ACSS2 gene, EpiVario hopes to find a more effective means of treating memory-related disorders.

Dr. Berger and Penn hold equity in EpiVario. Dr. Mews was a member of Berger’s lab at the time of the invention and holds equity in EpiVario. Both Penn and the inventors of the licensed technology may receive additional financial benefits under the license in the future.

About PTSD
PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can develop as a response to experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, such as interpersonal violence, combat, or a life-threatening accident or natural disaster. Core features of PTSD include re-experiencing symptoms (i.e., intrusive memories, flashbacks, and nightmares), avoidance of reminders of the trauma, negative thoughts and feelings (e.g., amnesia for aspects of the trauma, anhedonia, withdrawal, exaggerated self-blame), and increased arousal (i.e., insomnia, irritability, poor concentration, hypervigilance). The severity of PTSD symptoms can intensify through cycles of memory recall and reconsolidation. Psychiatric comorbidities, including depression and alcohol and substance use disorders, are common, and PTSD can heighten the risk of suicidal behavior.

About EpiVario
EpiVario is an early-stage drug discovery and development company that targets a wide range of memory-related psychiatric disorders, including PTSD, Alzheimer’s, and alcohol and drug addiction. The company’s novel approach targets memory formation at the source of the disease, preventing the creation and reconsolidation of traumatic memories. Core to EpiVario is administering its drug in conjunction with psychotherapy, where a negative or traumatic memory is intentionally re-lived, with the goal of disassociating the stress linked to the original traumatic event. EpiVario is a startup company originally founded at the Penn Center for Innovation. For more information visit https://www.epivario.com

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Alyson Kuritz
EpiVario
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