Dream data prove sweet for Minerva shareholders

Seltorexant seems to be the asset that just keeps giving, as seen by the 40% lift in Minerva Neurosciences' shares yesterday. The project not only proved itself to be effective at sleep initiation and maintenance, but also beat the leading sleep brand, Ambien, in a 365-patient phase IIb trial. Seltorexant, an orexin 2 receptor agonist, is designed to mimic natural sleep by damping down mechanisms that promote excessive wakefulness. The results of the sleep trial come before phase IIb data for seltorexant as an add-on for patients with major depressive disorder, due in the third quarter. The question for Minerva, which is co-developing the project with J&J, is which of the 5mg, 10mg and 20mg doses to move into pivotal trials. While all three showed efficacy in the insomnia study, 20mg performed best on all sleep measures. However, Minerva is expected to take the low doses forward too, as one of the biggest and growing markets for sleep products are the elderly, a population where regulators are keen to find the lowest effective doses. Sellside forecasts from Evaluate see seltorexant achieving sales of $65m in 2024, but given the latest data upgrades to commercial and regulatory chances could follow.

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