ACULYS is tackling the social issues in neurology head-on

Aculys Pharma is a private biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of innovations in the therapeutic area of CNS for the greater Japan region. It was founded by Catalys Pacific to address the increasing “drug lag” for innovative new medicines that fail to reach patients in the region. Licensed in from Bioprojet Pharma (Paris, France), Aculys’ lead asset, pitolisant, is a best-in-class treatment approved for Narcolepsy Type 1 (including cataplexy) in the US and EU and recently approved for Obstructive Sleep Apnea as well in the EU.

Source Company
Syndicate Partners

Three Questions Answered

Jean-Guillaume Lecomte
Jean-Guillaume Lecomte
CEO Bioprojet
What is the unmet medical need addressed by Aculys’ lead asset?

Pitolisant is a selective histamine H3 receptor antagonist/inverse agonist for the treatment of sleep disorders, which result in severe health consequences for patients and significant economic loss for society. Narcolepsy is a rare neurologic sleep disorder with its primary symptom being excessive daytime sleepiness, which is a common symptom of other disorders beyond narcolepsy. This combined with the fact that narcolepsy often occurs together with other disorders and also a low-level of public awareness for the disease have resulted in a low rate of diagnosis and treatment of the disease in Japan. A fundamental factor for this low rate of diagnosis and treatment is the limited options of pharmacological therapy. With the estimates of economic burden of sleep disorder exceeding $138 billion annually in Japan alone, we believe pitolisant is a potential solution for patients, families, and healthcare providers currently faced with this unmet medical need.

Why did you chose to work with Catalys Pacific to license out your asset?

Bioprojet has licensed out our assets to companies in the US, China, and Korea, however, it was difficult to close licensing deals in Japan given a high barrier of entry into the market. Factors related to this high barrier included lack of speed and lack of committed capital to the program. Catalys Pacific worked with speed, agility, and commitment as a true partner. They founded Aculys with a team and strategy bespoke for pitolisant and the other CNS assets. We are delighted to partner with Catalys Pacific and Aculys to bring our best-in-class asset for patients, families and providers suffering from narcolepsy and other sleep disorders in Japan.

Do you think other biopharmaceutical companies in the US and Europe can benefit further by developing assets through newly created venture-backed companies, like Aculys?

Yes; Japan is the 2nd largest market in the world for innovative drugs and enjoys the benefits of a universal healthcare system that ensures immediate access and pricing for approved drugs. Many biotech companies in the US and EU do not have the capabilities to develop and commercialize programs in Japan and the other Asia countries by themselves so collaboration with a trusted regional partner is critical. Surely, this articulates an opportunity for them to partner with Catalys Pacific to bring their own innovations to patients in Japan and the greater Asia region.