BrainCells Raises $1M, Moving Ahead Without CEO Schoeneck or CSO Barlow

Xconomy San Diego — 

At this time last year, Luke reported that San Diego’s BrainCells Inc. had acquired the compound sabcomeline from London-based Proximagen, and planned to study the drug as a treatment for depression.

Just a couple of months earlier, we reported that BrainCells was at a crossroads after a clinical trial showed that its lead compound for treating depression didn’t work any better than a placebo in a mid-stage trial of 90 severely depressed patients. Now, judging from the company’s website, it appears those were the last two press releases the company has issued—and BrainCells is again regrouping.

After a long quiet spell, BrainCells disclosed on Aug. 1 that it has raised nearly $995,000 of a planned $14 million round that includes debt, options, and securities, according to a regulatory filing.

The filing doesn’t indicate how the company plans to spend the new money, and acting CEO Robert Williamson did not respond to questions submitted yesterday by e-mail. The profile of Williamson on BrainCells’s website says he has been involved in starting and assisting public and private companies through his consultancy, LaSalle Venture Advisers.

James Schoeneck, who had served as BrainCells CEO since 2005, apparently left the company some time ago. In April of this year, Schoeneck was named as the CEO of Depomed (NASDAQ: DEPO), a Menlo Park, CA-based specialty pharmaceutical company where he also has served as a director for nearly four years.

A spokeswoman for BrainCells confirmed this morning that the chief scientific officer, Carrolee Barlow, also has left the San Diego company. She had no additional details, however, and said she could offer no information in response to other questions submitted to the company.

In the eight years since BrainCells was founded, the company has raised at least $77 million from investors that include Bay City Capital, MedImmuneVentures, New Enterprise Associates, Oxford Bioscience Partners, Technology Partners, Pappas Ventures, NeuroVentures, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, Mizuho, and Alexandria Real Estate Equities.