Former Teva CEO Jeremy Levin heads US start-up

Jeremy Levin

US company Ovid is working on a Lundbeck product to develop a treatment for autism.

Former Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA; TASE: TEVA) CEO Dr. Jeremy Levin has been appointed CEO of US biomed company Ovid Therapeutics, which is trying to find a drug treatment for autism. Levin has been chairman of the company for the past year, but because of his faith in it, he has decided to run it. He will continue to serve as chairman as well.

“I believe Ovid has tremendous potential and has been founded at a time when the science and medicine of neurology are at an inflection point. We believe we have the opportunity to create immense benefit for patients,” Levin said, “I look forward to leading the company into an exciting future.”

Ovid also announced today that it had signed a licensing agreement with H. Lundbeck A/S (Lundbeck; LUN.CO, LUN DC, HLUYY) for gaboxadol, the first oral medicine which holds the potential to treat patients with Angelman Syndrome and Fragile X Syndrome. Angelman Syndrome is a rare genetic neurological disorder affecting approximately 1 in 15,000 live births, with an estimated 4,000 patients in the US. Fragile X syndrome is a genetic neurological disorder that causes intellectual disability, behavioral and learning challenges and various physical characteristics. There are approximately 100,000 patients with Fragile X Syndrome in the US. No therapies have yet been approved for either disease.

Levin: "Lundbeck developed this drug for improving sleep, but it didn't work the way they wanted. We discovered that at much lower dosages the drug does not flood the whole brain, but is active only in certain areas that are significant for the syndromes we mentioned, and then it is also a safer drug.

"Lundbeck recognized our ability to develop this drug because of the broad knowledge in this area on the part of Matthew During, our president and chief scientific officer, and thanks to our expertise in orphan drugs. We received the development rights for the product in return for future royalties on it."

Lundbeck announced today that it would invest in Ovid, but the amount of the investment was not disclosed.

The product is about to enter clinical trials, which will probably start in 2016, including in Israel, for Angelman Syndrome and Fragile X Syndrome indications. "We have developed new science that enables us to know which existing molecules will work with new mechanisms at the forefront of science," says Levin.

Will you be able to cure autism in the future?

"We avoid calling it a cure, and of course point out that any drug therapy will be combined with behavioral therapy."

Will you consider collaborating with Israeli companies that specialize in the central nervous system?

"We are certainly interested in collaboration with Israeli entities; we even have negotiations taking place in this area at this very moment."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 16, 2015

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2015

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