was founded in 1989 by private financing, which raised 4 million
Euros. Further private financing raised nearly 12 million Euros,
and the company was then floated on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange
in 1996 selling shares with a total value of 32 million Euros.
A follow-on offer of shares in 1998 raised a further 35 million
The company has strategic alliances
with nine international companies and has a stake in two associated
companies, NsGene and Sophion Bioscience. NeuroSearch owns 28%
of NsGene A/S, which now has 22 employees, and 32% of Sophion
Biosciences A/S, which now has 19 employees. In March 2001,
NeuroSearch took over the operations of Display Systems Biotech
A/S, another Danish company, for 3.9 million Euros. This led
to a name change in the latter company, which is now called
Azign Bioscience A/S.
The founders include the current CEO, Jørgen Buus Lassen,
who has over 25 years experience in the field of neuropharmacology.
Between 1980 and 1988 Dr Lassen served as the managing director
of the research and development division at Ferrosan (a Danish
healthcare company). All of the other founders (Asger Aamund,
Jørgen Drejer, Frank Wätjen, Leif Helth Jensen,
Henrik K. Moltke and Peter Wulff) served as managers of Ferrosan
before joining NeuroSearch. The company has grown from just
25 employees back in 1989 to 137 staff in 2001.
NeuroSearch aims to become an international leader in its core
research areas, which are primarily pharmaceutical research
and development focusing on the central nervous system (CNS).
It will develop each of its compounds in-house as far as appropriate
to maximise the opportunities available to the company. In many
cases, the company will negotiate collaborations with leading
pharmaceutical companies to optimise development and/or marketing.
It will however maintain the commercial rights for its products
in the Nordic and Baltic countries with the possibility of expanding
these primary markets to larger parts of Europe.
This strategy of "in-house as long as possible, then collaboration"
is the fruit of two considerations. First, collaborations established
during the late clinical phases of a compound's development
are generally more profitable than those started during the
initial stages. Second, it will favour a gradual increase in
NeuroSearch's capabilities in the areas of drug development,
manufacturing of compounds on a larger scale for extended clinical
trials and, in the long term, sales of marketable products.
NeuroSearch is a neuropharmaceutical company committed to the
discovery and development of new drugs for the treatment of
CNS diseases for which therapy is currently non-existent or
inadequate. Having successfully completed one EC-funded project
that resulted in a new partnership, extended academic contacts
and a patent application, NeuroSearch is currently participating
in four EC-funded projects in the field of ion channel research.
One of its associated companies, NsGene, is also involved in
an EC-funded project on the development of human neuronal cell
lines for transplantation.
The recent completion of the human genome sequence has generated
a huge database of genes that will be used for extensive searches
for new drugs. The acquisition of Azign Bioscience A/S significantly
enhanced NeuroSearch's position in this race.
Although the company currently has no approved drugs, four
of their compounds are currently undergoing phase II clinical
trials for the treatment of depression, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
disease, cocaine addiction and for anxiety. A fifth compound
is undergoing phase I clinical trials for the treatment of brain
damage after stroke.
Depression: The advantage of the antidepressant being
developed by NeuroSearch is that it is effective after just
one to two weeks compared to between two and six weeks for those
currently on the market. NeuroSearch is collaborating with GlaxoSmithKline
on this compound.
Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Diseases: The WHO estimates
that 10 million people worldwide suffer from Alzheimer's disease,
whereas Parkinson's disease is estimated to affect one in every
one hundred people over the age of 60. NeuroSearch is now performing
phase II clinical trials on a drug that acts via a novel mechanism
for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and has been shown
to improve cognitive functions without side effects.
Anxiety: Only one-third of people with anxiety actually
use anti-anxiety drugs because of their serious side effects.
NeuroSearch and the Spanish company, Grupo Ferrer, recently
announced an agreement to develop and to commercialise an anxiolytic
compound with reduced side effects.
Cocaine addiction: In August 2000, NeuroSearch began
phase II clinical trials on a compound that may be an effective
therapy against cocaine addiction. This drug was developed in
collaboration with NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) in
the USA, and promising pre-clinical data have been obtained.
Brain damage following stroke: Stroke is a leading cause
of disability in adults in the Western world: it causes irreversible
neurological damage, including partial paralysis and loss of
mental capacity. NeuroSearch developed one of the first neuroprotective
compounds for the treatment of neuronal damage and have entered
into a licensing agreement with Shire Pharmaceuticals Group
plc. (an international pharmaceuticals company) for pre-clinical
and clinical development.