Neuron23 snags $100M and a new Parkinson's disease candidate

Neuron23 has picked a Parkinson’s disease clinical candidate, and, now, the small neurodegenerative-disease-focused biotech will have $100 million more to work with.

The young biotech has just completed a series C financing with plans for a clinical trial by the end of the year. This new round has a lot of familiar faces, with several investors from Neuron23’s A and B rounds coming back for more, most notably Westlake Village BioPartners and Kleiner Perkins. The two firms were the only investors in Neuron23’s series A of $33.5 million and have pitched in at every round since.

The lead on this round, however, goes to SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The series C counts for almost half of Neuron23’s $213.5 million in total financing.

“The time to innovate in neurodegenerative disease drug development is now,” said CEO Nancy Stagliano, Ph.D., in a press release.  

All this funding is coming in as Neuron23 prepares for an eventful year. The biotech has just nominated its clinical candidate, NEU-723, an inhibitor for one of the genes associated with Parkinson’s as well as systemic inflammatory diseases like inflammatory bowel disease and leprosy.

Neuron23 is focusing on Parkinson’s at the moment, despite the small percentage of patients with a mutation in the specific gene. Should this candidate prove effective, Stagliano has previously stated that it could expand the scientific community’s knowledge of the disease, which would ultimately help patients without this particular mutation.

Beyond Parkinson’s and NEU-723, the biotech is setting its sights on a protein, tyrosine kinase 2, also immune-related, and the new cash will in part go toward funding more of this research. Neuron23 hasn’t announced what exactly its trying to target with the TYK2 inhibitor, but it’s hinted toward multiple sclerosis.

“As exemplified within our LRRK2 Parkinson’s disease program we intend to identify patients, using state-of-the-art machine learning tools, who are most likely to respond to our therapies, increasing the likelihood of success in the clinic and bringing the right medicines to the right patients,” said Stagliano.

The series C didn’t just involve getting more funding. Neuron23 is also adding two new board members: Jim Scopa and Valentin Barsan, M.D. Scopa is a veteran life sciences investor, and Barsan is also an investor for SoftBank Investment Advisers, the managers for this round's lead investor.