Gilgamesh Pharmaceuticals has secured a collaboration and option-to-licence deal worth up to $2.01bn with AbbVie to research and develop next-generation therapies for psychiatric disorders.

Based in New York, Gilgamesh Pharmaceuticals is a clinical stage neuroscience biotech focused on developing new chemical entities (NCEs) that address the underlying causes of psychiatric illnesses.

The collaboration will combine the know-how of AbbVie in psychiatry with Gilgamesh Pharmaceuticals’ research platform for discovering novel neuroplastogens.

According to AbbVie, classic psychedelic compounds offer new approaches to treating mental health disorders, with some showing promise in cases where other treatments have failed. However, they often cause intense psychoactive effects, requiring administration in clinical settings with additional support.

Next-generation versions, called neuroplastogens, focus on mechanisms that offer significant clinical benefits while minimising the challenging effects of first-generation compounds. These promising new compounds hold potential for treating various psychiatric conditions, including mood and anxiety disorders, said AbbVie.

AbbVie senior vice president and discovery research global head Jonathon Sedgwick said: “Significant unmet need remains for people living with psychiatric disorders and we know that to innovate in this field, we need to pursue novel technologies and approaches.

“We look forward to working with Gilgamesh`s world-class team to advance the development of novel neuroplastogens and pave the way for additional treatment approaches in psychiatry.”

Upon exercise of the licensing option, AbbVie will take charge of the development and commercialisation of the neuroplastogen-based therapies.

Gilgamesh Pharmaceuticals will receive an initial payment of $65m from AbbVie. The former could also earn up to $1.95bn in total option fees and milestones, along with tiered royalties ranging from mid-single to low-double digits on net sales.

Gilgamesh Pharmaceuticals CEO Jonathan Sporn said: “We are thrilled to partner with AbbVie, a global pharmaceutical company focused on innovation in psychiatric care, to address the pressing challenges in mental health treatment.

“Our collaboration will pioneer research of a new generation of therapies that hold great potential for improving patient outcomes.”