Jacob Schwarz

Neuroscience Drug Discovery

Jacob Schwarz has over 20 years of medicinal chemistry experience and has held positions of increasing importance in the Parke-Davis, Pfizer, Genentech, and ESCAPE Bio organizations. He was previously VP of Chemistry at Acelot, a development stage biopharmaceutical company focused on therapies for neurodegenerative disorders, and Chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of Medicinal Chemistry. He is currently an Independent Consultant, Medicinal Chemistry. Jacob earned a PhD from Colorado State University under the guidance of A. I. Meyers, followed by an NIH postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratories of Samuel Danishefsky at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

More from Jacob

Finally, An Alternative to Opioids? NaV1.8 Surprises as a New Frontier in Pain Management

NaV1.8 has become an industry focal point in the pursuit of pain therapeutics thanks to the success of Vertex’s selective inhibitor, VX-548, in Ph. III clinical trials for acute pain and Ph. II results in diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Unlike opioid receptor modulation, NaV1.8 inhibition does not carry the same addiction risks in part due to its lack of expression in the brain. Following our recent review of the leading NaV1.8 inhibitor VX-548, this article provides more details on the history of target validation for NaV1.8 in pain and why this could be the new frontier for pain management.


suzetrigine (VX-548)

Vertex’s VX-548 is a potential first-in-class, exquisitely selective, oral NaV1.8 inhibitor that recently captured headlines for its positive Ph. III data. With the ongoing opioid epidemic throughout the US, there is an urgent unmet medical need for non-addictive pain medications as alternatives to opioids. They plan to file an NDA by mid-2024 for the treatment of moderate-to-severe acute pain. This case study highlights what’s publicly known about Vertex’s journey in pain leading up to the Ph. III readout for VX-548, and why this is such a watershed moment for pain management.



Drug Hunter Reviewer Commentary. With over two decades of experience in neuroscience drug discovery, Drug Hunter reviewer Jake Schwarz says "mGluR2/3 agonists have been explored for schizophrenia, and agonists/PAMS could be tuned to give antagonist/NAM activity, but depression is a new indication. One of the more interesting depression [...]



Ulotaront (SEP-363856) is a Phase III candidate with FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation for the treatment of schizophrenia with demonstrated efficacy based on a physician-rated scale (PANSS) in a 4-week placebo-controlled trial and continued improvement in an open-label extension study. Reviewer Jake Schwarz says, “ulotaront was developed [...]


"compound Ia"

The Roche BRAF inhibitor, compound Ia, is designed to address the limitations of existing BRAFi/MEKi inhibitor combinations. It is a RAF paradox breaker (see belvarafenib) and is brain penetrant, offering the potential to address several mechanisms of resistance to approved agents and potentially reducing the need for MEKi combination [...]



The Takeda GPR139 agonist, TAK-041 , is a CNS-penetrant GPCR agonist being explored for schizophrenia symptoms and is an interesting example of a triazinone-containing clinical candidate. GPR139 is an orphan GPCR that’s highly expressed in the human habenula, which plays a major role in avoidance behavior. Lesions in the habenula cause [...]



The Takeda AMPA-R potentiator, TAK-653 , is a glutamate-dependent potentiator that exhibits minimal agonism. AMPA-R agonism is associated with seizure risk and bell-shaped dose-response effects. As reviewer Jake Schwarz notes, companies including Cortex Pharmaceuticals (now RespireRx) and Lilly have been trying to develop AMPA modulators for [...]



The Altos Therapeutics /Takeda D2/D3 receptor antagonist, TAK-906 , is a peripherally-restricted, non-BBB penetrant molecule, targeting the stomach and vomiting center in the area postrema to treat gastroparesis. Gastroparesis is a chronic condition characterized by delayed gastric emptying, resulting in nausea, vomiting, pain, and anorexia [...]


Join the Drug Hunter Mailing List

to get free content and resources weekly. Trusted by >8,000 drug hunters worldwide. Unsubscribe anytime.