Sage Therapeutics: A New Model for Drug Discovery
Through a unique industry partnership, Taylor Family Institute core members will work with Sage Therapeutics in Boston, Mass., to advance the development of novel therapeutic, pharmacologic targets from chemical synthesis to proof-of-concept studies — with the ultimate goal of more quickly advancing from the animal testing phase through clinical trials in humans.
Sage Therapeutics, a start-up company developed under the leadership of Steven Paul, MD, is focused on developing neuroactive steroids for use in anesthesia and in the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. The company recently announced the first effective use of a neuroactive steroid to treat a rare form of epilepsy called status epilepticus and is working on other applications.
In collaboration with Washington University School of Medicine and Weill Cornell Medical College, the company has also been involved in the discovery of a potential drug target for schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. The target molecule, known as an oxysterol, can stimulate receptors on brain cells important in cognitive function. This finding could lead to the development of new types of antipsychotic drugs.
Several members of the Institute are actively engaged with Sage Therapeutics in its mission. Douglas Covey, PhD, is a founding member based upon his expertise in the chemical synthesis of novel neurosteroid analogues. These novel analogues build upon the steroid structural platform and have strong potential for development as therapeutic agents in a variety of psychiatric and neurological illnesses.
Charles Zorumski, MD, serves on Sage’s Scientific Advisory Board and Alex Evers, MD, is a consultant.
As part of its role, Sage Therapeutics will provide scaled-up chemistry, toxicity testing and clinical testing for the Institute’s initiatives related to neurosteroids. Clinical trials will not occur in St. Louis because of the roles Zorumski, Covey and others serve on Sage’s advisory board.