Biotechnology company launches to accelerate development of precision medicines for genetically defined neurological and immunological diseases
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., December 16, 2020 – Neuron23™ Inc., an early stage biotechnology company focused on developing precision medicines for genetically defined neurological and immunological diseases, today announced its launch backed by a combined $113.5 million Series A and B financing. The funding was comprised of $33.5 million Series A financing from Westlake Village BioPartners and Kleiner Perkins, and $80 million Series B financing led by Redmile Group. Additional Series B investors included Westlake Village BioPartners, Kleiner Perkins, Cowen Healthcare Investments, Acorn Bioventures, HBM Partners, Perceptive Advisors, and Surveyor Capital (a Citadel company). Neuron23 was founded through an innovative partnership with German biotechnology company Origenis GmbH.
Proceeds from the financing will be used to accelerate the development of Neuron23’s pipeline and expand its state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled drug discovery and biomarker platforms for identifying therapeutics for devastating neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s disease, neuroinflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis, and systemic autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Specifically, the round will allow the company to advance two-to-three existing development candidates into the clinic in the next 24 months, and to bolster its platform to identify genetic signatures of patients most likely to respond to the development candidates. Within each program, the potential exists to address multiple central nervous system (CNS) and systemic diseases, creating “pipeline within a product” opportunities. Proceeds from the financing will also support talent recruitment, technology development, and intellectual property (IP) expansion and protection.
“We are pleased to have such strong support from this syndicate of blue-chip investors who recognize our potential to build a new type of precision medicine company,” said Nancy Stagliano, PhD, CEO and Board Chair. “Neuron23’s approach can revolutionize how we treat genetically defined neurological and inflammatory diseases, thus significantly improving patients’ lives. Our team of accomplished entrepreneurs, scientists, and clinicians, with significant experience in drug discovery and development, is poised to harness the latest technologies in AI, human genetics, and medicinal chemistry to streamline the delivery of the right medicines to both genetically defined patients and the broader group.”
Neuron23 is advancing multiple therapeutics addressing genetically validated targets, with lead programs against leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2), a gene associated with Parkinson’s disease and systemic inflammatory diseases, and tyrosine kinase 2 (TYK2), a JAK family protein that plays a role in pathological immune signaling. The prioritization of LRRK2 and TYK2 allows the company to spotlight its foundational strengths in chemistry, biology, human genetics, and AI.
Beth Seidenberg, MD, co-founding managing director of Westlake Village BioPartners and a partner at Kleiner Perkins, led the Series A round and participated in the Series B round.
“Neuron23 has tremendous potential to usher in the next step-change in treating genetically defined neurological and immunological diseases, and the caliber of the investors in our syndicate speaks to the excitement around Neuron23 and its future,” Dr. Seidenberg said. “Dr. Stagliano brings significant expertise in neuroscience and a proven ability building high-performing companies, having previously served as CEO of True North Therapeutics, iPierian, and CytomX Therapeutics. With Dr. Stagliano at the helm, we are well positioned for a number of financing scenarios in the future, including additional private capital, accessing the public markets or partnering with Big Pharma.”
Neuron23 has been working in stealth mode since its founding in October 2018 by neurogeneticist and Chief Business Officer Adam Knight, PhD, along with Origenis GmbH, and Kleiner Perkins.
“Our partnership with Origenis gives us significant competitive advantages over traditional drug discovery approaches, including high throughput capabilities to identify scores of potent, selective, and brain penetrant molecules for each target,” said Dr. Knight.
In connection with the Series A and B rounds, Beth Seidenberg, Amrit Nagpal (Redmile Group), Kevin Raidy (Cowen Healthcare Investments), Michael Almstetter (Origenis), and Nancy Stagliano serve on the Board of Directors.
Westlake Village BioPartners recently launched two funds totaling $500 million and launched a new biopharma company, ACELYRIN. Westlake’s investment in the Series B round for Neuron23 came from its Opportunity 1 fund, one of the new funds launched and designed to invest additional capital into companies they incubated that show promise. “We are doubling down on Neuron23,” added Dr. Seidenberg.
Neuron23™ Inc. is an early stage biotechnology company focused on developing precision medicines for genetically defined neurological and immunological diseases. Neuron23 leverages recent advances in human genetics, combined with their state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled drug discovery and biomarker platforms, to advance therapeutics for devastating diseases. The company’s focus areas are neurodegenerative diseases, neuroinflammatory diseases, and systemic autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Founded in 2018, Neuron23 has assembled a world-class team of experts and entrepreneurs located in South San Francisco, CA, and Munich, Germany. For more information, please visit www.neuron23.com.
About Origenis GmbH
Origenis GmbH is a privately held German biopharmaceutical company developing brain-penetrating highly selective small molecule medicines and diagnostics for a variety of neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory diseases. Origenis leverages its unique capabilities in drug design, compound synthesis and characterization to engineer a continuous stream of proprietary intellectual property (IP)-protected new chemical entities capable of permeating the blood-brain barrier. Origenis’ approach has been validated by multiple partners resulting in a significant IP and R&D portfolio that ensures strong patent protection. For more information, visit www.origenis.com.
About Westlake Village BioPartners
Westlake Village BioPartners is a Los Angeles area-based venture capital firm focused on incubating and building life sciences companies with entrepreneurs who have the potential to bring transformative therapies and technologies to patients. Westlake manages more early-stage venture capital solely from the greater Los Angeles area than any other firm. The Westlake model is built on the founding team’s unique experience in successfully identifying and developing breakthrough therapies and building organizations. For more information, please visit www.westlakebio.com.