Freedom Biosciences, a U.S. clinical-stage biotech platform developing ketamine and psychedelic therapeutics, today emerged from stealth with $10.5 million in seed financing.
MBX Capital led the round and was joined by PsyMed Ventures, Village Global and The Yale Startup, among others. The new financing will help the company advance its current lead ketamine program as well as further multiple additional exploratory programs.
Freedom Biosciences was co-founded in April 2021 by John Krystal, chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University, and Dina Burkitbayeva, co-founder of PsyMed Ventures and one of the first investors in the psychedelic therapeutics space.
Burkitbayeva now serves as Freedom Bioscience’s CEO, while Krystal is its chief scientific advisor. Krystal discovered the rapid antidepressant effects of ketamine in patients in the 1990s, which directly led to FDA approval of Janssen’s Spravato Esketamine spray in 2019 for treatment-resistant depression and major depressive disorder with acute suicidal ideation or behavior.
“With the global mental health crisis on the rise, there’s great curiosity and hope about psychedelics and a recognition that we need new therapeutic tools,” Burkitbayeva said.
“While ketamine has been proven as a successful treatment for depression in patients that do not respond to traditional SSRIs and other prescription medication, current first-generation commercial ketamine treatment options are falling short due to cost, access and burdensome time requirements. John and I founded Freedom Biosciences to help—our mission is simple: to create and develop viable and efficacious treatment alternatives for millions of patients suffering from some of the most debilitating mental health issues. Everyone deserves to lead fulfilling lives, and I’m hopeful that our therapeutics can help make that a reality.”
The leadership team’s experience developing and bringing advanced clinical treatments to market, as well as history of working with and studying antidepressants and novel treatments for psychiatric disorders at Yale University, have helped Freedom Biosciences develop FREE001, its ketamine-specific program.
Program FREE001 is a ketamine treatment demonstrated in clinical trials to have more durable effects than ketamine. A phase 2 investigational study showed the combination provided 14 days of antidepressant effects, two to three times longer than the usual two to seven days of effects from ketamine alone. The company said this extended efficacy has promising implications for the treatment’s accessibility for patients unable to make frequent visits to a clinic.
“We believe Freedom Biosciences’ team is the most knowledgeable group there is when it comes to ketamine’s potent antidepressant potential,” said Gurdane Bhutani, managing partner of MBX Capital.
“We believe Freedom’s uniquely practical approach to drug development, which leverages a wide body of existing clinical evidence, is the best strategy to get safe, highly effective new medicines to patients as quickly as possible to tackle the enormous burden of depression on our society.”