Autism Speaks today said it awarded a $2 million grant to its nonprofit venture philanthropy affiliate Delivering Scientific Innovation for Autism (DELSIA) to partner with Seaside Therapeutics in discovering biomarkers toward development of new personalized treatments of autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

The partnership aims to find genetic and protein biomarkers for use in identifying patients most likely to benefit from arbaclofen (STX209), the most advanced program in the autism clinical pipeline, with potential to deliver the first medical therapy for a core symptom of autism.

“The broad heterogeneity of ASD suggests that optimal treatment will need to be personalized,” Randy Carpenter, CEO of Seaside Therapeutics, said in a statement.

Arbaclofen is an oral selective gamma-amino butyric acid type B (GABA-B) receptor agonist designed to improve social and communication functions in autism and Fragile X syndrome.

In June, Seaside entered into an alliance with Roche to expand its efforts at developing treatments for Fragile X syndrome and ASD. Seaside agreed to license exclusively to Roche patents covering the use of mGluR5 antagonists for neurodevelopmental disorders, in return for Roche leading development and commercialization of the compounds for the treatment of FXS and ASD. Seaside also agreed to continue clinical development of STX209, but allowed Roche to hold options to commercialize the drug candidate upon completion of undisclosed clinical development phases in FXS and ASD.

Established in October, DELSIA works with for-profit partners to fund development activities intended to deliver treatments for the autism community’s unmet medical and behavioral health needs.

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