SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Freedom Biosciences, a clinical-stage biotechnology platform developing next-generation viable and efficacious ketamine and psychedelic therapeutics, today emerged from stealth with $10.5 million in seed financing. MBX Capital led the round and was joined by PsyMed Ventures, Village Global and The Yale Startup, among others. The new financing will help the company advance its current lead ketamine program as well as further multiple additional exploratory programs.
Freedom Biosciences was co-founded in April 2021 by Dr. John Krystal, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University, and Dina Burkitbayeva, co-founder of PsyMed Ventures and one of the first investors in the psychedelic therapeutics space. Burkitbayeva now serves as Freedom Bioscience’s CEO, while Dr. Krystal serves as its Chief Scientific Advisor. Dr. Krystal is best known for the discovery of the rapid antidepressant effects of ketamine in patients in the 1990s, which directly led to FDA approval of Janssen’s Spravato Esketamine spray in 2019 for Treatment-Resistant Depression and Major Depressive Disorder with Acute Suicidal Ideation or Behavior.
“With the global mental health crisis on the rise, there’s great curiosity and hope about psychedelics and a recognition that we need new therapeutic tools,” explained CEO Dina Burkitbayeva. “While ketamine has been proven as a successful treatment for depression in patients that do not respond to traditional SSRIs and other prescription medication, current first-generation commercial ketamine treatment options are falling short due to cost, access and burdensome time requirements. John and I founded Freedom Biosciences to help—our mission is simple: to create and develop viable and efficacious treatment alternatives for millions of patients suffering from some of the most debilitating mental health issues. Everyone deserves to lead fulfilling lives, and I’m hopeful that our therapeutics can help make that a reality.”
The leadership team's extensive experience developing and bringing advanced clinical treatments to market, as well as history of working with and studying antidepressants and novel treatments for psychiatric disorders at Yale University, have helped Freedom Biosciences develop FREE001, its ketamine-specific program. Program FREE001 is a ketamine treatment that’s been demonstrated in clinical trials to have more durable effects than ketamine. A Phase 2 investigational study showed that the combination provided 14 days of antidepressant effects, 2 to 3 times longer than the usual 2-7 days of effects from ketamine alone. This extended efficacy has extremely promising implications for the treatment’s accessibility for patients who are unable to make frequent visits to a clinic.
"We believe Freedom Biosciences' team is the most knowledgeable group there is when it comes to ketamine's potent antidepressant potential," said Gurdane Bhutani, Managing Partner of MBX Capital. "We believe Freedom's uniquely practical approach to drug development, which leverages a wide body of existing clinical evidence, is the best strategy to get safe, highly effective new medicines to patients as quickly as possible to tackle the enormous burden of depression on our society."
Key members of the Freedom Biosciences team also include Robert Berman, M.D., who serves as the Head of the Scientific Advisory Board and Senior Medical Advisor. Dr. Berman first discovered the rapid antidepressant effects of ketamine in humans alongside Dr. Krystal at Yale University. He was the co-founder and inaugural Chief Medical Officer for Biohaven Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:BHVN), now a commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on treating neurological diseases, which was acquired by Pfizer. Inaugural members of Freedom Biosciences Scientific and Strategic Advisory Board also include:
- Dr. Zubin Bhagwagar, Global Program Lead at RallyBio with 25+ years of academic and industry experience in biopharma
- Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, founder of the Center for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London, has designed human brain imaging studies with LSD, psilocybin, MDMA and DMT, and clinical trials of psilocybin therapy for severe mental illnesses
- Dr. Victoria Hale, former Chair of the Board of Directors at Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and co-founder and former CEO of Medicines360
- Dr. Alex Kwan, Associate Professor in the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University
- Dr. Tom Laughren, former Division Director for the Division of Psychiatry Products, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at FDA
- Dr. Kurt Rasmussen, Chief Scientific Officer at Delix Therapeutics and former Head of Division of Therapeutics & Medical Consequences at National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
- Dr. Gerard Sanacora, Director of Yale Depression Research Program and Co-Director of Yale New Haven Hospital Intervention Psychiatry Service
For more information, visit: www.freedombio.co
About Freedom Biosciences
Freedom Biosciences is a clinical-stage biotechnology platform developing next-generation viable and efficacious ketamine and psychedelic therapeutics. The company was co-founded by Dr. John Krystal, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University, and Dina Burkitbayeva, founder of PsyMed Ventures, alongside Hunter Bouchard and Morgan Springer. Freedom Biosciences launched from stealth in 2022 and is backed by MBX Capital, Village Global and PsyMed Ventures, among others. To learn more, visit: www.freedombio.co