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NeuroSearch A/S
NeuroSearch A/S (DK)

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NeuroSearch 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 Euros.

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.

NeuroSearch A/S

The team

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.

The strategy

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.

The activities

NeuroSearch A/S

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.

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NeuroSearch A/S

NeuroSearch A/S
93 Pederstrupvej
DK-2750 Ballerup