Karuna Therapeutics, a Boston, MA-based clinical-stage drug development company, raised a $68m Series B funding.
The round – whose completion also included the issuance of $5m in shares upon conversion of debt into equity – was led by ARCH Venture Partners, with participation from Fidelity Management & Research Company, Eventide Asset Management, Pivotal bioVenture Partners, Partner Fund Management, Wellcome Trust, Sands Capital, Alexandria Venture Investments, and founder PureTech Health. In conjunction with the funding, Heather Preston, M.D., managing director of Pivotal bioVenture Partners, has joined the board of directors of Karuna.
Proceeds from the financing will be used to advance the development of KarXT into several new indications, including geriatric psychosis and pain, progress new formulations of KarXT, expand the pipeline, and continue to build company infrastructure.
Led by Steve Paul, M.D., chief executive officer and chairman of the board, Karuna Therapeutics focuses on targeting muscarinic cholinergic receptors for the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders including psychosis in schizophrenia, psychosis in Alzheimer’s disease, and pain.
KarXT (Karuna-Xanomeline-Trospium), its lead product candidate for the treatment of psychosis in schizophrenia, consists of:
– xanomeline, a novel muscarinic acetylcholine receptor agonist that has demonstrated efficacy in placebo-controlled human trials in schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease, and
– trospium chloride, an FDA-approved and well-established muscarinic receptor antagonist that has been shown not to enter the central nervous system (CNS).
KarXT is designed to preferentially target M1/M4 muscarinic receptors in the brain while inhibiting their stimulation in peripheral tissues to significantly improve tolerability. It is currently being evaluated in a Phase 2 clinical trial as a potential treatment for acute psychosis in patients with schizophrenia.