Freedom Biosciences achieved a major $10.5 million in a seed financing round in which MBX Capital, PsyMed Ventures, Village Global and The Yale Startup, among others, participated.
The clinical-stage biotech company, which develops therapeutics based on various psychedelics to treat major depressive disorder, will use the funds to advance its lead ketamine program as well as other exploratory programs under the leadership of cofounder Dr. John Krystal, who presides over the psychiatry department at Yale University. Krystal has extensive experience working with ketamine for depression treatment.
“With the global mental health crisis on the rise, there’s great curiosity and hope about psychedelics and a recognition that we need new therapeutic tools,” said Dina Burkitbayeva, co-founder of PsyMed Ventures and CEO of Freedom Biosciences.
“While ketamine has been proven as a successful treatment for depression in patients that do not respond to traditional SSRIs and other prescription medication, current first-generation commercial ketamine treatment options are falling short due to cost, access and burdensome time requirements."
In terms of Freedom’s mission, Burkitbayeva said the company intends to create and develop “viable and efficacious treatment alternatives for millions of patients suffering from some of the most debilitating mental health issues.”
“Everyone deserves to lead fulfilling lives, and I’m hopeful that our therapeutics can help make that a reality,” Burkitbayeva concluded.
On behalf of MBX Capital, managing partner Gurdane Bhutani said, “We believe Freedom's uniquely practical approach to drug development, which leverages a wide body of existing clinical evidence, is the best strategy to get safe, highly effective new medicines to patients as quickly as possible to tackle the enormous burden of depression on our society."
Current Programs And Advisory Board
FREE001 is a ketamine-specific program that’s been clinically demonstrated to hold more durable effects than ketamine: a Phase 2 investigational study showed the combination provided two weeks of antidepressant effects, 2 to 3 times longer than the usual timeframe of effects from ketamine alone, which would make for wider accessibility to the treatment.
The development of FREE001 was made possible by the leadership team's extensive experience commercializing advanced clinical treatments as well as studying antidepressants and novel treatments for psychiatric disorders have helped.
In addition to Dr. Burkitbayeva, other key members include the co-founder of now Pfizer-owned Biohaven Pharmaceuticals BHVN, Dr. Robert Berman M.D., currently Freedom’s head of the scientific advisory board and senior medical advisor and a scientific and strategic advisory board, including authorities belonging to institutions such as RallyBio, Imperial College London, MAPS, Cornell University, FDA, the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and Yale.
Their names are Dr. Zubin Bhagwagar, Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, Dr. Victoria Hale, Dr. Alex Kwan, Dr. Tom Laughren, Dr. Kurt Rasmussen and Dr. Gerard Sanacora, respectively.
Photo courtesy of Olia Danilevich on Pexels.
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