VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Oct. 6, 2016) - Today, Quark Venture Inc., a venture capital company, announced a US$30 million investment in MSI (MSI Methylation Sciences Inc.), a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company, that will enable MSI to advance development of an oral, small molecule therapy for adjunctive treatment of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). The investment is through Quark Venture's Global Health Sciences Venture Fund.
MDD is estimated to affect around 16 million Americans (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 2013) and, according to the World Health Organization (2012), is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Among the U.S. workforce, the prevalence of MDD has been estimated at 7.6 per cent (Birnbaum et al., 2010). A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Greenberg et al (2015)), examined trends in costs associated with MDD and estimated that the total economic burden of MDD is $210.5 billion per year in the U.S.
According to key industry analysts, about one-third of patients treated with standard antidepressant therapy will end up being treatment resistant to multiple lines of therapy. This is estimated to be about 7 million patients in the U.S. alone. Current therapy includes dosing with atypical antipsychotics, are estimated to have about 4.1 prescriptions into this depression patient group per year.
"The currently marketed antidepressants work through similar pathways in the brain and do not adequately treat individuals with major depression. New medicines that work in different ways represent tools for both doctors and patients in treating people who inadequately respond to marketed antidepressants," said Karimah Es Sabar, Chief Executive Officer of Quark Venture. "MSI's lead product, MSI-195, directly addresses this problem. MSI's strong track record of formulation and clinical development, a strong patent portfolio and its experienced management team validated our investment in MSI. Quark Venture is excited to be involved in supporting this initiative in an area of high unmet medical need."
The Company's first product, Strada™ (MSI-195), is based upon S-adenosyl methionine, a naturally occurring molecule produced throughout the body, where it plays a vital role in the one-carbon cycle. Detailed analysis from the MSI Horizon Phase 2 Trial showed support for clinically significant efficacy for MSI-195 in adjunctive treatment of MDD in a select group of patients. Additionally, MSI-195 showed no serious adverse events and an overall favourable side effect profile relative to marketed antidepressant therapy.
"We are pleased to partner with Quark Venture, a strong new global venture funder focused on the life sciences space," said Nancy Harrison, President of MSI. "Alongside Quark Venture, our existing investor Inventages Venture Capital are established global investors with a track record of development. Quark Venture will provide MSI with the funds to secure MSI-195's further development in a confirmatory phase 2 B trial."
Methylation Sciences (MSI) is focused on developing new products based on molecules, which have clinical proof of concept but have yet to be exploited in the major pharmaceutical markets. Strada™, is based on S-adenosyl methionine, a naturally occurring molecule produced throughout the body, where it plays a vital role in the one-carbon cycle. For more information, please visit www.methylationsciences.com
About Quark Venture
Quark Venture is focused on equity financing of innovative biotechnology and health sciences companies with breakthrough technology platforms and projects. The organization's approach is to establish long-term relationships with target companies, with a view to enable and strengthen management to realize the full potential and value of the technology. This approach has been previously successfully demonstrated in the energy and high tech sectors where Quark Venture partners have invested. Quark Venture's management is supported by a scientific and commercial advisory board. For more information on Quark Venture visit www.quarkventure.com