Takeda Spins Out Research Team into Neuroscience Startup

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Takeda Pharmaceutical has spun out its 25-person neuroscience research team in Cambridge, U.K., joining with Lightstone Ventures to help launch Cerevance, a new company focused on developing new treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Cerevance will be led by Mark Carlton, Ph.D., who until now has been president and CSO of Takeda Cambridge. The company’s resources include a portfolio of preclinical and clinical-stage drug programs, lab space, and access to a new technology created in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute laboratory of Nathaniel Heintz, Ph.D., at The Rockefeller University.

Cerevance has been funded with $36 million—including $21.5 million in Series A financing from Takeda and Lightstone. Representatives from each will join Cerevance’s board.

“With a well-capitalized, proven team and promising drug programs already underway, we hope to rapidly advance a pipeline of therapeutics into the clinic in parallel with scaling up a truly novel approach to brain diseases based on our new technology,” Cerevance CEO Brad Margus said in a statement.

Cerevance marks Takeda’s latest collaboration with Margus and Dr. Heintz. The two were among founders of Envoy Therapeutics, a central nervous system (CNS) drug discovery startup in which Takeda invested in 2009 and later partnered with in neuroscience research. Envoy later licensed a technology from The Rockefeller University before being acquired by Takeda in 2012.

The creation of Cerevance follows a Takeda restructuring, under which the pharma giant has consolidated research in two global hubs—Boston/Cambridge and Shonan, Japan—as it refocuses R&D on oncology, gastroenterology, and the CNS.

“Cerevance is a great example of our new R&D strategy,” stated Andrew Plump, M.D., Ph.D., Takeda’s chief medical and scientific officer. “When we announced the closure of our research site in Cambridge, U.K., our goal was to find an innovative externalization home for our most promising CNS programs and scientists in an entrepreneurial setting.”

Cerevance will operate from sites in Cambridge, U.K., and Boston/Cambridge, MA.








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