atai Life Sciences (ATAI) announces the launch of PsyProtix

October 11, 2021 8:05 AM EDT

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atai Life Sciences (Nasdaq: ATAI) (“atai”), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company aiming to transform the treatment of mental health disorders, announced the launch of PsyProtix, a new platform company formed with Chymia LLC, a Duke University biotechnology spinout. PsyProtix is a precision psychiatry company focused on developing therapeutics for treatment-resistant depression (TRD) and other mental health indications.

PsyProtix takes a precision psychiatry approach, an emerging field that aims to treat disorders by factoring each patient’s variability in genes, metabolism, environment, and lifestyle. Traditionally, psychiatric patients are diagnosed and treated based on guidelines and protocols designed for the majority, which can often lead to trial and error as physicians attempt to best meet each individual patient’s needs.

Precision psychiatry is designed to allow physicians to prescribe treatments specifically targeted to the individual, rather than relying on the trial and error approach and/or adding on treatments, such as antidepressants or antipsychotics, in the quest to achieve a therapeutic benefit.

Over 300 million people suffer with a major depressive disorder (MDD) worldwide, with a third of these patients diagnosed with TRD. Direct medical costs for TRD patients are estimated to be two to three times higher than non-TRD MDD patients. These statistics highlight the importance and potential of a mechanistically targeted therapeutic approach. PsyProtix will focus on metabolomic mechanisms underlying depression symptoms for certain patients with the goal of deriving more tailored treatments.

“Our view is that each patient is unique, meaning that any given patient will likely have specific individual needs,” said Srinivas Rao, Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder of atai Life Sciences. “This emerging technology adapts to the variability of conditions, such as depression, with the aim of allowing patients with psychiatric disorders to potentially be diagnosed and treated more accurately and efficiently according to their specific needs. It’s an honor to be collaborating with Professor Rima Kaddurah-Daouk and her team at Duke, given their great work in advancing the research of metabolomics and their study of neuropsychiatric disorders.”

Dr. Kaddurah-Daouk, is a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in Duke’s School of Medicine. She leads large NIH funded consortia to implement a precision medicine approach for the study of neuropsychiatric diseases where the metabolome is used to capture net influences of diet exposome gut microbiome and genome on brain health and disease.

The work licensed by Duke to start PsyProtix captures efforts of a large number of scientists working collaboratively under the Mood Disorder Precision Medicine Consortium which is led by a Duke principal investigator (PI). Their approach has the promise to potentially optimize the selection of drugs most effective for each patient, easing the healing journey in important and impactful ways.

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