Saniona Co-Founds New Migraine-Focused Company
Denmark-based Saniona, a company focused on treating eating disorders and diseases of the central nervous system, has co-founded a new company that is taking aim at the migraine market.
The new company, Cephagenix, will develop novel migraine treatments based on Saniona’s unique ion channel competence and CNS technology platform. The company will be helmed by Jes Olesen, the former president of the European Federation of Neurological Societies and chairman of the Danish Headache Center. Olesen has been pioneering clinical headache research and together with his research team has demonstrated solid evidence for involvement of certain ion channels in the development of migraine. Ion channels control and influence essentially all physiological processes in the body, including thinking, sensing and moving. Cephagenix is established with the aim of identifying and developing new effective migraine treatments, Saniona said in its announcement.
Migraine is one of the most common neurological disorders characterized by episodic headache, as well as other associated manifestations, such as nausea, vomiting, phonophobia, which is a fear of loud noises, and/or photophobia, light sensitivity. Some migraine treatments modulate ion channels to ameliorate the conditions associated with the disorder. Saniona did not provide details surrounding the potential treatments that Cephagenix could develop, or how those treatments could be focused on migraine.
Over the past few years, there have been several advancements in the treatment of migraine, including Eli Lilly’s Revow (lasmiditan) for the acute treatment of migraines. In December, Allergan won approval for Ubrelvy (ubrogepant) tablets for the acute treatment of migraine. Ubrelvy is the first drug in the class of oral calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) receptor antagonists approved for the acute treatment of migraine. Connecticut-based Biohaven Pharmaceutical is likely to file for approval of its CGRP vazegepant for the treatment of acute migraine this year following positive Phase II/III data announced in December.
Rami Levin, chief executive officer of Saniona, said the formation of Cephagenix is a “cost-effective way” for the company to benefit from high-quality research that has been conducted by his company while still maintaining a focus on its core areas of expertise.
“The establishment of Cephagenix and cooperation with such a globally respected expert as Jes Olesen marks another validation of Saniona’s unique ion channel drug discovery competence and technology and its application in yet another important therapeutic area,” Levin said in a statement.
Olesen said the pioneering research on the role of ion channels in migraine over the past 15 years has provided “exciting leads” in drug development. Olesen added that they now have the chance to exploit their research findings in collaboration with Saniona and turn the research into potential treatments for migraine.
At the end of the first year of Cephagenix’ collaboration with Saniona, Olesen will have a 67.7% stake in the company and Saniona will own the remaining 33.3%. Olesen will provide private financing, including DKK 1.2 million (about $173,517) to cover the funding of all Saniona activities for Cephagenix during its first year.
Cephagenix will be headquartered at Saniona’s facility in Ballerup, Denmark, where all research activities will be conducted. The company management team will consist Olesen and Palle Christophersen, who is currently the senior vice president of research at Saniona.