“There are very few drugs out there for the worst type of PMS,” says new Asarina Pharma CMO Märta Segerdahl. “And the ones we have are only moderately effective for some patients. I’ve been in this field for years, very few companies have come as far as Asarina have—with a project in the clinical development phase and a safe therapy built on an extremely clever scientific concept.”
Märta Segerdahl has over 25 years’ clinical and strategic experience. She gained her Medical License and Doctorate from Karolinska Institutet, and was a senior consultant at pain clinics in Karolinska and Huddinge Hospitals in Stockholm, heading up the latter. She is currently Chief Medical Specialist for Clinical Development Neurology for Danish pharma company Lundbeck.
SEPRANOLONE TO TREAT PMDD AND MENSTRUAL MIGRAINE
Asarina Pharma’s flagship product Sepranolone is currently being clinically trialled for PMDD with 250 patients in Sweden, Poland, Germany and the UK. It potentially treats Menstrual Migraine too, seeming to be caused by the same potent hormone metabolite that triggers PMDD—allopregnanolone. Sepranolone is the endogenous compound that modulates the effects of allopregnanolone. Phase IIA clinical trials of Sepranolone for menstrual migraine will begin in the first half of 2019.
“The concept, the science, behind Sepranolone is so clever. A lot of research teams have been looking into this. But until now they’ve largely based their findings on what they have been able to measure. So if you can measure oestrogen—then you think oestrogen’s the cause of PMDD. Torbjörn Bäckström’s team pushed their thinking further. The associations over time they noted between GABA-steroids like allopregnanolone and cyclical mood symptoms had never been made before. The correlations are so pronounced I think it’s very logical that Sepranolone would treat other menstrual conditions like menstrual migraine too.”
NO SIDE EFFECTS
For Segerdahl, the safety and targeted nature of the new therapy are critical: “The compound is safe. One reason for the limited success of other pre-emptive PMDD treatments has been that, with long treatment times, compliance is low. Patients can’t keep on taking medication that keeps giving them side-effects. This therapy targets the core reasons for the symptoms, and nothing else.”
Asarina Pharma CEO Peter Nordkild: “Märta brings a powerful skillset to our small, driven team as we advance through clinical trials. Her huge clinical experience with patients, and strategic experience with pharma, will both be crucial in helping us bring Sepranolone to market—and help people living with PMDD remain in control of their life.”
“My appointment is a clear sign that Asarina is convinced this is a viable product,” Segerdahl says. “When you have a project that’s reached the clinical phase, and you believe in your compound, then you need someone who’s going to really stand up and be accountable for the therapies’ safety and efficacy.”