RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – CeNeRx BioPharma, a startup focused on central nervous system treatments, reported this week that its lead product is off to a promising start.

Tyrima, a proposed treatment for depression and anxiety, was “safe and well tolerated: in Phase I clinical trials, CeNeRex said. No “significant adverse events” were reported even at the highest doses of 120 mg, the company added.

The compound is part of a class of drugs known as reversible inhibitors of monoamine oxidase A, or RIMAs. CeNeRex noted that Tyrima did not produce side effects associated with other antidepressants known as conventional monoamine oxidase A inhibitors (MAOIs).

"The triple mechanism of MAOI antidepressants has the potential to provide enhanced efficacy to the 30% of patients who do not respond to current therapies, but use of these drugs has been limited by their propensity to cause serious side effects," said Dr. Atul Pande, chief medical officer of CeNeRx. "It is therefore encouraging that Tyrima, a selective and reversible MAO inhibitor specifically designed to avoid these side effects, demonstrated a promising safety profile in its first clinical trial, even at the highest dose. These results provide a strong foundation for proceeding to multiple dose safety studies."

Tyrima elevates levels of three neurotransmitters that affect mood and anxiety. Other antidepressants affect only one, the company said.

If approved, Tyrima would be the first RIMA-based antidepressant available in the U.S.