IVCA Feature: 2018 Venture Capital Portfolio Company of the Year is Aptinyx

November 7, 2018

The 2018 Illinois Venture Capital Association Awards Dinner is fast approaching – December 3rd at the Four Seasons Hotel – and the honorees have been named. The Venture Capital Portfolio Company of the Year is the Aptinypx, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of transformative therapies for challenging neurologic disorders.
In this special profile, the IVCA reached out to the President & CEO of Aptinyx, Dr. Norbert Riedel. The investor firm, Adams Street Partners – represented by Terry Gould (Partner & Head of Growth Equity Investments) – observed... “We spun this business out of another company where we had been investors and board members [Naurex]. The team is excellent, and we thought the science held a lot of promise.” 
IVCA: What is a brief history and background of Aptinyx?
Aptinyx: Aptinyx was spun out of a predecessor company, Naurex. We sold Naurex to Allergan for $1.7 billion ($560 milliaon upfront) in 2015 – and entered into a productive and fruitful research collaboration with Allergan thereafter. Our drug discovery platform centers around a novel mechanism and chemistry against a target of longstanding interest... the NMDA receptor.
We focus on discovering, developing, and commercializing novel therapeutics for the treatment of CNS disorders. We currently have three product candidates in clinical development. The first, NYX-2925, is in Phase Two clinical development for the treatment of chronic pain; the second, NYX-783, has completed Phase One clinical development and is being developed for the treatment of PTSD; and the third, NYX-458, is in Phase One clinical development and is being developed for Parkinson’s cognitive impairment.  
IVCA: The company takes a deep dive into developing transformative therapies for the brain and neurological pathways. What is the foundation for those therapies, and how does the application of them work for potential patients?
Aptinyx: The foundation for the therapies we are developing is a novel approach of modulating NMDA receptors. NMDA receptors have been targeted for decades, but to-date the therapies developed have primarily been antagonists. We have truly modulatory therapies that can, at varying concentrations, either activate or inhibit these receptors. This differentiated mechanism seems to be one that enables our compounds to enhance synaptic plasticity – the way in which neural cells communicate with one another. Synaptic plasticity is a critical process involved in learning and memory, and as such is important in numerous CNS disorders.
IVCA: The science of discovery is dependent on funding. How does Aptinyx bridge the gap between complex possibilities from your science and interpreting/presenting those complexities for potential investors?
Aptinyx: To date we have been financially supported by some of the most highly-regarded healthcare investors. The majority of our investors have extremely deep knowledge in our science. For example, Liam Ratcliffe from New Leaf Venture Partners – who led our Series A financing – was previously the head of CNS drug development at Pfizer. Adam Koppel from Bain Capital Life Sciences – who led our Series B financing – is a trained neuroscientist who was previously the CBO at Biogen.
IVCA: What does the honor of the 2018 Venture Capital Portfolio Company of the Year mean to the Aptinyx Company, and how do organizations like the Illinois Venture Capital Association help companies like yours in general?
Aptinyx: Honors such as this one mean a great deal to us. We take pride in the fact that our science has roots that are tied to Northwestern University, and we have been fortunate to be supported for many years now by local firms like Adams Street Partners.
We strongly believe all the makings for an innovative biotech environment are present in the Chicago area and receiving honors like this help to highlight that potential. Organizations like IVCA are instrumental in supporting true innovation and providing a platform for companies like ours to receive the recognition and exposure that is needed in order to drive meaningful business growth. We value the support of the IVCA and its associated firms and we certainly recognize the importance of a long and collaborative relationship.
For more information on the Aptinyx Company, go to www.Aptinyx.com   For more information on Adams Street Partners, go to www.AdamsStreetPartners.com