The National Fragile X Foundation is pleased to learn of this strategic partnership between two of the three major pharmaceutical companies currently working to develop breakthrough treatments for Fragile X syndrome (FXS) and other autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Seaside Therapeutics and Roche (along with Novartis) have been the driving forces in developing compounds and testing new drugs for these disorders. This partnership appears to be a classic win-win for the companies and for families, since all existing drugs will continue to be developed and studied through advanced clinical trials, but will now be enhanced by the different strengths each partner brings to this enterprise. The resources of the smaller, entrepreneurial and early drug developer Seaside will combine with the larger and more experienced Roche to form a potent new force in the search for improved treatments and potential cure.

Seaside Therapeutics’ Co-Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer feels that “Seaside’s partnership with Roche directly supports a shared mission to advance the speed of FXS and ASD research and development to yield disease-modifying therapeutics for patients and their caregivers. The collaboration brings additional resources into Seaside to drive the late-stage STX209 clinical program, which has demonstrated disease-modifying potential in FXS, towards completion and helps ensure, with continued clinical success, that STX209 will be available to patients and their families around the world as quickly as possible by bringing the commercial capabilities of one the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies to bear. The alliance also combines the leading science, knowhow, insights and intellectual property in mGluR5 negative allosteric modulation to more rapidly advance targeted drug development in this area, including Roche’s Phase 2 RG7090 program in Fragile X.”

We welcome this positive step and look forward to its results. Below is the complete Media Release about the landmark alliance.

Basel, Switzerland and Cambridge, MA, USA – 19 June 2012

Roche and Seaside Therapeutics Announce Landmark Alliance to Advance Novel Treatments for Fragile X Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorders

Roche (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY) and Seaside Therapeutics announced today that they have entered into a collaboration to develop disease modifying treatments for Fragile X syndrome (FXS) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD), both neurodevelopmental disorders for which there are currently no effective pharmacological treatments that address core symptoms. The alliance aims to speed up research and development in this field and  lead a fundamental change in the treatment paradigm for FXS and ASD by developing therapeutics that target the molecular basis and, in turn, core symptoms of these neurodevelopmental disorders.

Under the terms of the agreement, Seaside will license patents covering the use of mGluR5 antagonists for the treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders exclusively to Roche. Roche will subsequently lead the development and commercialization of these compounds for the treatment of FXS and ASD. Its mGluR5 drug candidate RG7090, is currently enrolling patients in a Phase 2 clinical trial in FXS.

Seaside will develop its GABA-B agonist program and retains exclusive rights to issued and pending patents covering the use of GABA-B agonists for the treatment of FXS and ASD. Seaside’s lead GABA-B candidate STX209 is currently enrolling patients in Phase 3 trials in FXS and recently completed enrollment in a Phase 2b trial in ASD. Roche may exercise options to commercialize STX209 upon completion of certain clinical development phases in FXS and ASD, but Seaside will continue to lead the clinical development of these programs. Additional terms of the transaction will not be disclosed.

“Roche is committed to finding new treatments in areas of high unmet medical need such as autism spectrum disorders,” comments Luca Santarelli, Global Head of Roche Neuroscience. “Recent discoveries in genetics have shed light on the biological underpinnings of these conditions thus providing a basis for mechanistic drug discovery. To establish a leadership position in this field we sought to build a solid partnership with Seaside Therapeutics, a company that has successfully pioneered the research and development in this novel and uncharted area.”

“This collaboration is a real win for patients and caregivers—aligning leading minds and organizations committed to rapidly advancing transformational drugs to treat autism and Fragile X syndrome,” said Randy Carpenter, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Seaside Therapeutics. “Importantly, this collaboration also provides Seaside with additional resources to complete late-stage clinical development of STX209, which we believe has the potential to change the treatment paradigm for Fragile X and autism and thereby help patients and their families achieve an improved quality of life.”

ASD refers to a group of enigmatic cognitive disorders, including autism and Asperger’s syndrome, which impair social interaction and communication, whereas FXS is a rare genetic disease, whose symptoms closely resemble ASD, and whose underlying mechanism may be similar. With no approved pharmacological therapies that address core symptoms for either condition, the unmet medical need remains high. The compounds that Roche and Seaside Therapeutics are developing hold the promise to become the best-in-class treatments by targeting aberrant glutamate signaling and GABA, thereby restoring synaptic transmission in ASD and FXS patients.

About mGluR5

The most commonly inherited form of autism involves the gene encoding Fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP). Loss of FMRP function disrupts signaling between neurons, leading to widespread brain abnormalities and mental retardation. Normally, FMRP is balanced by mGluR5, an important receptor in the brain that is involved in learning and memory. Without normal FMRP, this balance is lost, leaving mGluR5 function unopposed. Early results from a clinical trial suggest that children with Fragile X syndrome can be helped by drugs that inhibit mGluR5 activity. (Source: Sfari)

About Seaside Therapeutics

Seaside Therapeutics is working to correct or improve the course of autism, Fragile X syndrome and other neurodevelopmental disorders by translating breakthrough discoveries in neurobiology into therapeutics that will improve the lives of patients and their families. While there are treatments that alleviate some symptoms of neurodevelopmental disorders, there are currently none that address the underlying causes.

Seaside Therapeutics is using a scientific approach in attempt to address this unmet need and changing the landscape of drug development by focusing on single-gene disorders with a high prevalence of autism, such as Fragile X syndrome.

About Seaside Therapeutics’ STX209:

STX209 is an oral selective gamma-amino butyric acid type B (GABA-B) receptor agonist. Pathologies observed in certain neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorders and Fragile X syndrome are believed to be caused by excessive activation of glutamate receptors and abnormally high ratios of excitatory to inhibitory neurotransmission in the brain. GABA-B receptors play an important role in modulating the release of glutamate and optimizing the ratio of excitatory to inhibitory neurotransmission. STX209 has demonstrated efficacy in preclinical models, suggesting that it may improve function in individuals with autism spectrum disorders and Fragile X syndrome. With STX209, Seaside has successfully completed the largest, randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled trial (Phase 2) in patients with Fragile X syndrome and an open-label Phase 2a exploratory trial in patients with autism spectrum disorders. Two Phase 3 studies, one in adolescents and adults (ages 12 to 50) and one in children (ages 5 to 11) with Fragile X syndrome, are currently enrolling participants. A Phase 2b study in children, adolescents and adults (ages 5 to 21) with autism spectrum disorders recently completed enrollment.

About Roche’s involvement in autism spectrum disorders

Roche has a strong commitment in the area of neurodevelopmental disorders, in particular in ASD with currently three compounds in clinical development. A Phase 2 trial is currently ongoing in adult and adolescent Fragile X patients through a wide age range to investigate the safety and efficacy of Roche mGluR5 antagonist RG7090 (read more about the study under In parallel Roche is exploring biomarkers to identify patients most likely to benefit from this treatment.

A recent study{{1}} demonstrated that chronic treatment with Roche’s mGluR5 antagonist corrected Fragile X symptoms in a mouse model, even if started after the disease onset. These new data suggest beneficial effects in a wide range of symptoms and a disease-modifying potential for mGluR5 antagonists in Fragile X syndrome.

Roche is also committed to establishing connections with leading academic institutions and biotechnology companies. Recently, an international consortium of scientists, led by Roche and King’s College London, has launched the largest single grant for autism research in the world and the largest for the study of any mental health disorder in Europe. Read more about European Autism Interventions – A Multicentre Study for Developing New Medications (EU-AIMS).

Roche also signed an agreement with the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Harvard Medical School, Children’s Hospital Boston and Massachusetts General Hospital to develop cell models for autism spectrum disorders.

Key players in the field of ASD research across the industry, including Seaside Therapeutics, academia and patient advocacy groups recently gathered at the fourth edition of Roche – Nature Medicine Translational Neuroscience Symposium, to share the latest advances in the field of “Autism Spectrum Disorders: From Biological Understanding to Therapeutic Strategies”.

About Roche

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is a leader in research-focused healthcare with combined strengths in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Roche is the world’s largest biotech company with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, virology, inflammation, metabolism and CNS. Roche is also the world leader in in-vitro diagnostics, tissue-based cancer diagnostics and a pioneer in diabetes management. Roche’s personalized healthcare strategy aims at providing medicines and diagnostic tools that enable tangible improvements in the health, quality of life and survival of patients. In 2011, Roche had over 80’000 employees worldwide and invested over 8 billion Swiss francs in R&D. The Group posted sales of 42.5 billion Swiss francs. Genentech, United States, is a wholly owned member of the Roche Group. Roche has a majority stake in Chugai Pharmaceutical, Japan. For more information:

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[[1]]Michalon et al., Chronic Pharmacological mGlu5 Inhibition Corrects Fragile X in Adult Mice. Neuron – Volume 74, Issue 1, 12 April 2012, Pages 49–56 (full text)[[1]]