Neumora, with Arch and Amgen in its corner, files for IPO to fund late-phase depression clinical trials

The long-frozen biotech IPO waters may be thawing slightly—provided you’re one part of a rare breed of biotech. Shortly after RayzeBio filed to go public, Neumora Therapeutics, another well-financed, late-phase business, made its pitch for funding to study treatments for brain diseases including depression. 

Neumora made a splashy entrance to the biotech world in October 2021 when it exited stealth with $500 million from backers including Arch Venture Partners plus a collaboration with Amgen and a pipeline of eight prospects. The biotech rounded up the cash to test the idea that advances in genomics and neurobiology are enabling an era of more targeted, effective neuroscience treatment, much like has already happened in oncology.  

Less than two years later, and having feathered its nest with a further $112 million in private funding, the biotech has filed to find out how public investors feel about its pitch. Neumora is seeking an undisclosed sum of money to support clinical and preclinical development of a pipeline led by a depression prospect that is on the cusp of phase 3.

The filing provides a look at what has happened behind the scenes at the biotech during its private years. As previously reported, Neumora dropped a candidate, NMRA-094, that was once listed as its third most advanced asset. The IPO filing reveals the biotech culled the obstructive sleep apnea prospect, which it acquired in its Alairion takeover, based on FDA feedback. Neumora kicked another asset to the curb less than one year after acquiring it from Propellex. 

The biotech also used the filing to discuss the data on its remaining candidates. Nonclinical studies of NMRA-511, a V1aR antagonist, found dose-limiting toxicities including tremor and convulsions. The data led to a partial clinical hold. After adding tremors to the protocol as a stopping criterion, Neumora got the hold lifted and advanced its multiple ascending dose study. The biotech plans to start a clinical trial in people with agitation associated with dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease in the first half of 2024.

Other details disclosed in the IPO relate to navacaprant, the KOR antagonist that is on the cusp of phase 3. Neumora linked the candidate to phototoxicity in a rat study but, with no evidence of the problem showing up in phase 1 and 2 trials, is advancing into late-stage development in major depressive disorder (MDD). Top-line results from one of three late-phase MDD trials are due in the second half of next year.

Going public will enable Neumora to add to the $334 million it had at the end of June and give its starry investor syndicate a chance to exit. Amgen owns a 24.4% stake in Neumora, making it the biotech’s largest shareholder ahead of Arch, at 20.4%.

The syndicate, which includes SoftBank, has supported the creation of a biotech that has the credentials to win over wary investors. While investors were stung by biotechs that went public on little more than preclinical promise during the go-go IPO years, Neumora, like RayzeBio, is pitching for cash based on data from clinical trials.