Retrophin is acquiring San Diego, CA-based firm Kyalin Biosciences, an early-stage company focused on therapies targeting the core symptoms of autism and related conditions. The deal is scheduled to close by the end of the year.

Kyalin’s lead product is an intranasal delivery form of carbetocin, a synthetic analog of oxytocin. Kyalin’s founder and president Srinivas Rao, M.D., Ph.D., is joining Retrophin as evp, head of neuroscience as part of the deal, where he will be responsible for CNS drug development. 

Retrophin’s founder and CEO Martin Shkreli said in a statement that this acquisition dovetails nicely with their strategy, which also involves another oxytocin-related deal the company made this morning: The firm signed an agreement with Novartis Pharma for an exclusive U.S. license for Syntocinon™ nasal spray, an intranasal formulation of a synthetic version of oxytocin, for an upfront payment of $5 million plus milestone payments and royalties.

In the U.S., Syntocinon nasal spray was approved in 1960 to assist initial postpartum milk ejection; however, Novartis discontinued it in 1997 for commercial reasons. Retrophin is planning to reintroduce the product for prescription use in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2014.

The company also wants to pursue a clinical trial program with Syntocinon for its potential use as a treatment for schizophrenia and autism, as, according to the firm, oxytocin was shown to play a crucial role in the regulation of brain-mediated processes strongly relevant to several neuropsychiatric disorders in preclinical studies. 

“We believe that Syntocinon is an underutilized drug,” Shkreli said. “Compelling data from studies that show positive results in patients with schizophrenia and autism lead us to believe that this drug may have significant utility in treating these conditions. We look forward to initiating a clinical program in order to develop the drug for these indications.”

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