Approximately 19 million Americans are affected by depression, with 2.5 million more diagnosed annually, at a cost to society of nearly $40 billion annually. Though millions of Americans now take antidepressants, these drugs form a fairly narrow functional class, causing a portion of depressed patients to be refractive to these therapies. Due to the length of time a patient must take antidepressants prior to amelioration of symptoms, and due to their known side effects, patients may become noncompliant.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an all too common condition of the warfighter returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, usually occurs following a severe traumatic event where the stress response is prolonged. As many as 23-31% of active soldiers meet the basic criteria for PTSD or depression at 3 months post-deployment. Symptoms, in soldiers suffering PTSD after experiencing combat trauma, may include stressor avoidance, hyper-arousal, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and even attention/memory impairment. A World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry panel recommends the use of antidepressants, yet most studies suggest that these marketed antidepressants may not be fully effective for many sufferers of combat-related PTSD.
Neuronascent is developing therapeutics aimed at intervening at the level of reduction in neurogenesis in patients with chronic depression and anxiety. Our lead therapeutic candidate represents an exciting new class of drugs that is not a serotonin or norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, but one that complements those already on the market for noncompliant and refractive patients. In vivo preclinical proof of concept for this lead therapeutic candidate showed not only antidepressive and anxiolytic activity, but also memory improvement not normally observed with an antidepressant. These behavioral benefits correlated with the long-term induction of new neurons, or neurogenesis, in a critical cognitive region of the brain.
Neuronascent’s lead candidate for depression is also the lead candidate for post-traumatic stress disorder, which may be observed along with depression, but is considered a separate disorder. In a mouse model of the disorder, NNI-351 reversed the deficits and improved anxiety to better than normal mice.
Our lead candidate for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, NNI-351, is in the preclinical phase of development, where we are initiating IND-enabling studies.
For more information on depression, please visit the International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression at www.ifred.org.