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Sage Therapeutics takes on the nervous system

By
Nicole White
February 28, 2018

There are more than 250 companies in our combined portfolios, and they are all making amazing advancements. From names you know, like Tesla, to those little gems you haven’t heard of yet, like Xylem, we want you to know all about what your holdings are up to. These ‘deep dives’ will help you understand what you’re invested into and how your dollars are making the world a better place.

Sage Therapeutics is part of our Disease Eradication portfolio.

- Strokes, hemorrhages, infections like meningitis, structural disorders from injuries or tumors, degenerations like Parkinson disease, and functional disorders like epilepsy or chronic headaches are just some of the cases that fall under nervous system disorders

- Last fall, Sage announced a breakthrough with its drug brexanolone, a drug that treats postpartum depression. 

- Sage is diligently trying to create a large library of viable compounds that can be used to treat NMDA and GABA-related disorders in a wide range of patients

The central nervous system, otherwise known as the brain and spinal cord, are your personal connections to the world. Through these two integral parts of your body, you are able to move through and interact with the places, people, and things that make up your life. In fact, the principal organs of the nervous system — the ears, eyes, sensory organs, and sensory receptors — only enhance this necessary connection. These body parts are personal, but they help us lead public lives. And in turn, those outer surroundings provide intricate layers to our private moments.

So what happens when it goes wrong?

Various problems affecting the nervous system can happen throughout a person’s life, either without warning or as a slow ongoing process. While the list that makes up the nervous system is small, the issues that can arise are large: vascular disorders like strokes or hemorrhages, infections like meningitis, structural disorders from injuries or tumors, degenerations like Parkinson disease, and functional disorders like epilepsy or chronic headaches are just some of the cases that fall under nervous system disorders. It goes without saying that such disorders can feel like life sentences, stripping a person of the connection they once had to a familiar life, and often replacing it with another that’s complicated and painful.

At Sage Therapeutics, a team of highly-trained professionals is seeking answers to these life-altering disorders through the research and development of specialized treatments. Sage works primarily in the clinical stage of a patient’s treatment to develop medicines that may be missing in the traditional sphere.

By working to create new ways to treat, and hopefully solve, central nervous system disorders, Sage Therapeutics is progressing toward a time where these cases may no longer be hindrances. And in that way, it is fighting for a future where everyone can stay connected.

Taking things head on

It’s only been a handful of years since Sage Therapeutics became a leading biopharmaceutical company in the country, but already it’s making major changes to the way its industry looks at central nervous system disorders. It was founded in 2010, went public four years later, and announced more than $500 million in profits at the end of 2017. No biggie, right?

And earlier this month, Sage released its long-term business plans for developing and selling breakthrough medicines. The plan will focus on three central nervous system therapies: the positive impact of fundamental brain activity, pinpointing existing treatment gaps, and uncovering new approaches to depressive disorders. It’s ambitious, but the company has reason to think positive — after all, in the last few months alone, it has made some serious strides.

Last fall, Sage announced a breakthrough with its drug brexanolone, a drug that treats postpartum depression. Sage says that this disorder affects as much as 20 percent of American women after pregnancy, and its goal is to find a treatment for moderate to severe cases. In its findings, patients who were experiencing those symptoms reported lower rates of depression than those who received a placebo, meeting Sage’s overall goal for positive results in two late-stage studies.

Furthermore, this past December, another major drug trial announcement from the company reached the public. It is testing a drug it refers to as SAGE-217, which is meant to treat a group of major depressive disorders (MDD) including bipolar depression and Parkinson’s disease, and gave the treatment to a cohort of patients. Sixty-four percent of the patients reported that their MDD was in a state of remission on the 15th day of treatment.

Clearly, these are all good things to come from a company that professes a deep commitment to studying the brain: an organ that is notoriously complicated. But let’s back up and briefly discuss where all of this is coming from. Sage Therapeutics’s work stems from its grasp of the brain’s nerve cells and connecting electrical circuits, which it relies on to transmit orders to the rest of the body. The circuits need pathways to manage the flow of that information, and Sage mainly focuses on the pathways of the receptors NMDA and GABA.

We know, it’s a lot to take in. But understand this: When these two receptors are out of whack — which means that signals can be amped when they need to be calmed, and so on — then disorders take place. In the two major positive shifts that Sage made at the end of last year, it’s showing that its work to understand and stabilize these networks is working. And it’s only a matter of time before the company’s work sees progress on even more projects.

The beat goes on

Soaring stocks aside, which is what happened both times Sage saw those gains, it has serious work on its hands. Sage Therapeutics is diligently trying to create a large library of viable compounds that can be used to treat NMDA and GABA-related disorders in a wide range of patients. This library, when complete, will be the future of medicine for central nervous system disorders.

While there’s still plenty of work to be done, Sage Therapeutics is proving that breakthroughs can happen. And we’re excited to see what’s in store.

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