Sage Therapeutics Grabs $38M More For CNS Drugs

Xconomy Boston — 

Sage Therapeutics has just reined in another big financing round and a new group of investors to help rev up its first clinical trial—and perhaps an IPO to boot.

The Cambridge, MA-based startup said today it has nailed down a $38 million Series C round of equity financing and brought in several additional backers, among them OrbiMed Advisors, EcoR1 Capital Management, Foreside Capital Management, and two unnamed “blue chip public investment funds,” signaling the potential for an IPO. Sage founding investor Third Rock Ventures also participated in the funding, as did previous investor Arch Venture Partners. With the latest round in place, Sage has raised just under $96 million in venture cash since its inception in 2011.

As with its previous $20 million Series B in October, Sage plans to use the cash to get its first clinical trials up and running and develop other preclinical programs. The company is developing a platform of “allosteric receptor modulators”—drugs designed to create a balance among the transmitters in the brain—for rare or specialty CNS disorders like status epilepticus (a life-threatening form of epilepsy) and the social problems arising from Fragile X syndrome (a form of autism). In going after such disorders, Sage can develop treatments at a low cost and on speedy timelines. The company has already begun enrolling patients for a Phase I/II clinical trial of its first drug candidate, SAGE-547, in status epilepticus. Sage has said that it wants to determine success or failure early with difficult trial endpoints.

Sage CEO Jeffrey Jonas told me last year that the company looks at the status epilepticus drug candidate as a “sentinel” program for other rare forms of epilepsy that might also be affected by modulating the inhibitory transmitter GABA.