Psychedelic biotech MAPS PBC rebrands to Lykos following FDA filing, scores $100M financing

New year, new name, new cash. All good things come in threes.

That’s the thinking for Lykos Therapeutics, the new and improved version of MAPS PBC, which unveiled the rebranding Friday. MAPS PBC spun out of its parent organization MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) in 2014 and has spearheaded the clinical development effort of MDMA-assisted therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The organization submitted its new drug application to the FDA last month, becoming the first to ask regulators to approve a psychedelic as a therapeutic product. 

The newly named biotech emerges with $100 million in series A funds, led by Helena, an investment firm billed as a “global problem-solving organization.” Other projects led by the firm include a company that makes diamonds out of captured carbon and Cruz Foam, a compostable replacement to plastic-based packing foams. Others that joined in the financing included the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation (yes, the New York Mets owner, though Alex Cohen leads the philanthropy), True Ventures and Satori Neuro. 

The financing will go primarily towards building out the commercialization wing of the organization following the NDA submission. CEO Amy Emerson told Fierce Biotech in December that assuming the application is accepted in February and Lykos is given priority review, approval could come as early as August. Lykos at that point will work with regulators to get MDMA rescheduled, putting the rough timeline to market near the end of the calendar year. 

“The end of one chapter—hitting the send button—is just the opening of a next chapter,” Emerson said.

Lykos’ board also got a redesign, now comprised of six MAPS appointees, Emerson and Protik Basu, Helena’s managing partner of special investments. Still at the helm of the board is Jeff George, the former Sandoz CEO and nine-year Novartis vet who was given chairman duties in 2022. 

The rebranding and nine-digit raise add more fuel to the growing flame of interest in psychedelics and their chemical analogs among investors and biotechs. Atai’s COMPASS Pathways is studying psilocybin as a treatment for major depressive disorder and startups like Transcend and Delix are developing non-hallucinogenic compounds as psychiatric treatments. Meanwhile, the new face of Johnson & Johnson’s neuroscience franchise is Spravato, an intranasal esketamine spray to treat major depression.

Editor's note: This story was updated to correct that Jeff George became MAPS PBC chairman in 2022, not 2020.