The BAA pharma start-up Lophora is working in the field of depression to help the millions of people worldwide who do not respond to the treatment available on the market. They are developing a drug that shows similar effects as the active components in magic mushrooms and ayahuasca as they have shown to have a positive effect on patients with depression.
We met with co-founder Jesper Kristensen and co-founder Emil Marcher-Rørsted who are representing the team in the Business Acceleration Academy.
Jesper Kristensen is a Professor at University of Copenhagen and has been working within CNS Medicinal Chemistry Research for more than 15 years and published more than 90 scientific papers. Emil Marcher-Rørsted holds an MSc degree in Medicinal Chemistry and is currently employed as a Ph.D. student responsible for the development of the synthetic methodology for the current lead compound series of therapeutic candidates in Lophora.
What are you developing?
We are developing an antidepressant with a novel mode of action that works within days. Psilocybin, which is the active component in magic mushrooms, has shown great promise in the treatment of depression and we have identified a proprietary class of ligands that has a similar pharmacological profile as psilocybin. A small study of 12 people that were not responding to any known treatment were still symptom-free three months after one treatment with psilocybin. We know which of the interactions in the brain are important for the therapeutic effect and we have developed a compound that only presses the right buttons.
What is it like to be part of the BAA program?
It is a very good experience to bring the project out of the lab and communicate what we have found because we believe it to be extraordinary. Although we may know how to build a company, we don’t actually know which steps to take. We thought we were in good shape before we got here, but we are definitely in much better shape today. We have not only had the chance to learn a lot but also to apply the knowledge to our start-up.
What is the biggest upside by joining the program?
The network we have acquired here is very valuable. We have met a lot of people and they may not all be able to help us now, but if we make progress from here, they will have valuable connections for the work ahead of us in 2020 and 2021. The program has given us a glimpse into the business world and an understanding of do’s and don’t’s as well as an understanding of what a good project looks like from a business perspective.
Who is part of your team?
Besides us, we have two co-founders. CEO, Bo Tandrup, is a Pharmaceutical Entrepreneur with many years of expertise in late-stage development and in bringing product ideas from the lab to the market and Associate Professor, Anders Jensen, who has been working with Molecular Pharmacology Research for 20 years and has extensive experience in the development and pharmacological characterization of small-molecule CNS ligands at neurotransmitter receptors.
Follow Lophora’s work here.
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