Concert tunes pipeline by selling off CNS assets to startup Terran Biosciences

A new act is coming in to swoop up Concert Pharmaceuticals' audience as the biotech sells some central nervous system assets to little known startup Terran Biosciences.

Terran CEO Sam Clark, M.D., Ph.D., and Chief Business Officer Dustin Tetzl, M.D., declined to disclose which assets were bought in an interview with Fierce Biotech. Tetzl characterized the drugs as "some of the most innovative in the space," and Clark said Terran is working to build a "tech-enabled neuro platform company."

Concert did, however, confirm that its failed schizophrenia drug CTP-692 is not involved in the deal. Concert's other CNS drugs are being developed by partners, including Avanir Pharmaceuticals and Cipla. Avanir's AVP-786 is in multiple mid- and late-stage trials in patients with Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, intermittent explosive disorder and traumatic brain injury. And Concert offloaded its spasticity med CTP-354 to generics maker Cipla in the first quarter of 2019.

"Terran has all rights to this program and they will make updates accordingly. We are excited about the collaboration and wish the Terran team the best of luck," said Justine Koenigsberg, SVP of corporate communications and investor relations at Concert, in an emailed statement.

The fledgling New York startup seems to have emerged from nowhere in inking the "portfolio" deal and intellectual property purchase for multiple CNS drugs on Friday morning. Clark and Tetzl declined to disclose the startup's investors in an interview.

But the company's backers aren't shy on their websites: Catalytic Impact Foundation, Transhuman Capital and Noetic Fund have all provided capital to Terran. The biotech claims to have more than 150 patents in psychedelic therapeutics. Terran last raised $2 million in venture funding in May 2020, according to Pitchbook.

Catalytic, one of Terran's investors, says Terran is working on a potential treatment for schizophrenia that is "ready for Phase III clinical trials." Tetzl confirmed the biotech has a late-stage schizophrenia asset but said information on Catalytic's website is from "quite early on" and could be erroneous.

Aside from Clark and Tetzl, Terran's management includes clinical research leader Annette Madrid, M.D., a former chief medical officer at BlackThorn Therapeutics and Balance Therapeutics.

Terran is also working on an MRI-based imaging diagnostic for Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, traumatic brain injury and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease made famous by multiple cases in the National Football League. 

For Concert, the asset sale reflects the biotech's commitment to its sole clinical-stage in-house drug, CTP-543, which is being tested in two phase 3 trials in patients with the hair loss condition alopecia areata. Concert plans to ask the FDA to approve the drug in the first half of 2023, if the phase 3 programs are successful, the biotech said last week.