Investment furthers Carmel-based Confluence Pharmaceuticals study of drug to treat autism, fragile X syndrome


By Maria Cook

Confluence Pharmaceuticals, a Carmel-based company with a mission to develop medication for neurological disorders such as fragile X syndrome and autism, has received an investment of $200,000 from the Indiana University Philanthropic Venture Fund. According to Confluence Pharmaceuticals CEO Steve Johns, the money will be used to further clinical development and more.

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“This was one part of a large raise, and the raise was designed to move our lead compound forward in fragile X syndrome,” Johns said. “With that investment, we will do some necessary regulatory work and toxicology work and move toward our Phase 2 clinical trials.”

Confluence Pharmaceuticals was founded 2010. Johns, along with chairman and co-founder Boyd Sturdevant Jr., created the company after hearing about the work of Dr. Craig Erickson at the IU School of Medicine. Erickson had patented a compound for treating Fragile X syndrome and autism spectrum disorder.

Confluence Pharmaceutical’s potential fragile X syndrome medication has successfully completed Phase 1 clinical trials. Some formulations of the drug, called Acamprosate, are already used to treat alcoholism. But Confluence Pharmaceuticals has found a way to formulate Acamprosate into a powder. Many people with fragile X syndrome have difficulty swallowing. According to Johns, formulation was challenging because simply crushing Acamprosate tablets isn’t effective — doing so causes digestive side effects in patients.

“We reached out to parent advocacy organizations for fragile X and talked about different delivery forms, and this was one form that came back that they really liked,” Johns said. “The population is really hungry for help. Fragile X is a rare disease, and there aren’t a lot of treatment options.”

Johns said there is “great potential” for the medication’s future. However, there is no way to know for certain, when, or if, the medication will make its way to market.