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Ovid Therapeutics has announced it will partner with U.K.-based artificial intelligence (AI) biotech Healx to develop and bring better treatments for Fragile X syndrome to the clinic.

Ovid is based in New York and specializes in rare neurological disease treatments. It has several in the pipeline and has already had soticlestat, which is licensed to Takeda, approved for treatment of Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome –two rare types of childhood epilepsy.

The deal with Healx, which is using AI technology to improve and speed up drug development for a range of diseases, involves the U.K. company obtaining the rights to develop and commercialize gaboxadol for use as a potential combination therapy for the genetic condition Fragile X syndrome, the most common cause of inherited intellectual disability.

Gaboxadol has been investigated several times in the past as a possible treatment for neurological conditions such as tardive dyskinesia, Huntington’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease, but research stalled due to concerns about efficacy and side effects such as it’s sedative capacity. Ovid bough the rights to Gaboxadol from Lundbeck in 2015.

The drug showed promise for treating Fragile X syndrome in a previous Phase II study carried out by Ovid. Healx has been searching for new therapies for Fragile X using its AI platform, which is the most developed as a target in the company’s pipeline, and is hoping to combine some of its discoveries and candidate drugs with gaboxadol to create the optimum combination therapy for the inherited condition, a disorder that currently has few treatment options.

“Gaboxadol shows encouraging activity and a good safety profile in a range of conditions. We are keen to see its clinical value unlocked,” said Jeremy Levin, Chairman and CEO of Ovid Therapeutics. “We’re impressed by the capabilities that Healx has developed and are optimistic that they can unlock effective drug combinations that will take advantage of the unique mechanism that underlies the effects we see when patients take gaboxadol.”

Under the conditions of the partnership, the finances of which were not disclosed, Healx has the option to develop and commercialize Gaboxadol for this indication. If they choose to do so, Ovid will receive certain clinical, regulatory and commercial milestone payments from Healx, as well as royalties on any commercialized products containing gaboxadol.

As well as researching its use for Fragile X syndrome, Healx will also use its platform to search for other potential development targets for the drug.

“This agreement represents an exciting opportunity for Healx to advance more potential treatments for rare conditions towards the clinic, and, hopefully, deliver them to patients in need,” commented Tim Guilliams, co-founder and CEO at Healx. “We are excited to be deploying our innovative combination and indication expansion methods to identify new therapeutic opportunities for compounds like gaboxadol.”

While Ovid does not plan to carry out further trials with gaboxadol without Healx, it does retain the opportunity to become Healx’s co-development and co-commercialization partner in the future. If Ovid takes up this option, it will share profits and losses rather than being paid milestone and royalty payments.

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