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Precision Neuroscience Company Starts-Up, Raises $500M

Brain activity graphic

(Gordon Johnson, Pixabay)

7 Oct. 2021. A new company is underway developing more precise therapies for psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases based on genetics and data science. Neumora Therapeutics Inc. in Watertown, Massachusetts is founded by researchers in neuroscience at the Broad Institute and Johns Hopkins University, and raising more than $500 million in its first venture round, including a $100 million equity stake and collaboration with drug maker Amgen.

Neumora Therapeutics is developing treatments for debilitating neurological disorders that up to now do not respond consistently to most current therapies. The company says it applies advances in data science, including artificial intelligence, bringing together findings from genomics, imaging, and neuroscience databases to define more precise brain disease sub-types. Neumora calls these more precise definitions data biopsy signatures, which it maps to specific mental health traits. The company says that connecting these better defined data biopsy signatures to more precise psychiatric and neurodegenerative conditions provide a better chance for therapies to succeed.

Neumora Therapeutics’ technology is based on research by its scientific founders Morgan Sheng, co-director of psychiatric research at the Broad Institute, a genetics research center affiliated with MIT and Harvard University, and Richard Huganir, professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University. Sheng studies molecular mechanisms behind the structure and flexibility of synapses, the parts of neurons sending and receiving signals, and molecular and cellular functions of neurodegeneration. Huganir studies molecular mechanisms of neurotransmitters, chemicals in the brain involved in brain signaling and their effects on synapse performance.

Match right therapeutics to the right patient populations

“Instead of the current broad classifications of brain diseases across a wide spectrum of generalized symptoms,” says Sheng in a company statement, “Neumora’s approach is driven by an ability to develop and match the right therapeutics to the right patient populations. This approach marks a major advancement in the field of neuroscience and has the potential to truly revolutionize the way we target brain diseases, similar to the way genetic sequencing and new tools have revolutionized the development of precision medicines for cancer over the past decade.”

Neumora Therapeutics was formed by life science investment company ARCH Venture Partners in Chicago, and is also leading the company’s first venture financing round, raising more than $500 million. Joining ARCH Venture Partners in the round are Venture Investments, Altitude Life Science Ventures, Catalio Capital Management, F-Prime Capital, Invus, Logos Capital, Mubadala Capital, Newpath Partners, Polaris Partners, re.Mind Capital, Softbank Vision Fund 2, Surveyor Capital, Waycross Ventures, and others.

Drug maker Amgen in Thousand Oaks, California is among the investors in Neumora Therapeutics, with a $100 million equity stake. Amgen’s subsidiary, deCode Genetics in Reykjavik, Iceland, is collaborating with Neumora to discover new insights into genomic associations with psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders including schizophrenia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS. In addition, Neumora is receiving an exclusive global license to current Amgen neuroscience programs addressing the proteins casein kinase 1 delta and glucocerebrosidase related to neurological disorders.

deCode Genetics is a pioneer in population genetics research. The company collects data from 160,000 volunteers in Iceland, more than half the country’s adult population. The company also assembles a genealogical database for the entire country going back 1,000 years to Iceland’s founding as an independent nation. These extensive data sets, combined with the high quality of universal health care in Iceland, says deCode, makes it possible to study most common diseases on a large scale, minimizing the selection bias that can occur in larger and more diverse populations.

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