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USF-Developed Drug Not As Successful As Hoped

Apr 16, 2012

An antidepressant drug that some USF officials hoped would be the university's version (at least from a royalty standpoint) of the University of Florida's Gatorade isn't having that kind of success.

According to an article by Robert Trigaux in Sunday's Tampa Bay Times, the drug, known as "TC-5214" has produced disappointing results in clinical trials:

Two drug companies seeking to develop TC-5214 — Targacept and its much bigger partner, AstraZeneca PLC — recently scrapped plans to develop the drug and win federal FDA approval. It was one of Targacept's lead product candidates.

TC-5214 affects the same neuron receptors as nicotine. But it failed in the drug company tests to show a substantial increase in the standard measurement for depression — the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale — compared to a placebo.

Trigaux says this has led to some financial problems for both Targacept (shares down nearly 80 percent since early November to $4.40 this past Friday) and AstraZeneca (announced last month it would write off $50 million tied to the failed trials).

However, USF officials, like Valerie McDevitt, the university's assistant vice president of patents and licensing, expressed optimism to Trigaux:

"I think we are just starting to see the university become more mature," McDevitt said Friday. "Some of these drug developments can take 10 years just to get where we are. This is a natural progression."