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Emyria teams with CRO PsychoGenics for MDMA-like drug development

By Joseph Keenan · Sep 21, 2022 · Fierce Biotech

Australian biotech Emyria and U.S.-based CRO PsychoGenics have agreed to a collaborate on preclinical trials of MDMA-inspired drug candidates.

Along with its partner, the University of Western Australia, Emyria will screen five novel MDMA analogues from the biotech’s proprietary library using PsychoGenics’ drug discovery platform, dubbed SmartCube.

The platform harnesses artificial intelligence to extract and analyze behavioral and physiological data from mice. The data are then used to help predict the clinical effects of new drug compounds by comparing the novel drugs effects to reference drug libraries.

“Emyria and PsychoGenics share a common vision of accelerating the development of novel drug candidates to treat major neuropsychiatric disorders,” PsychoGenics CEO Emer Leahy, Ph.D., said in a release. “Emyria’s leadership team and academic partners put the company at the forefront of MDMA-inspired neuropsychiatric drug development, and we are eager to help advance its preclinical program.”

The two companies will bear their own costs during the initial phase of the U.S.-focused collaboration before exploring drug discovery and commercialization partnership models further down the line.

PsychoGenics has used a similar shared-risk partnership model in collaborations with the likes of Sunovion and Roche, where the CRO’s drug screening platform resulted in the discovery of several compounds that have since made it into the clinic.

MDMA is a psychedelic that typically is associated with recreational use but has been found in studies to reduce anxiety, evoke feelings of empathy and sympathy and promote a sense of psychological safety that can aid patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.