Swiss biotech Noema raises $112m for Roche castoffs


Swiss biotech Noema has added another $112 million to its funding in an oversubscribed second round, as it takes neurological disorder drugs licensed in from Roche through clinical development.

The Series B – led by Forbion and Jeito Capital – comes around two years after the Basel-based company raised $59 million in a first round, bolstering its resources as it runs multiple mid-stage trials hoping to demonstrate proof-of-concept for its drug candidates.

Its lead product is basimglurant (NOE-101), an mGluR5 inhibitor that is phase 2b trials in two indications – persistent seizures in tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), a severe form of epilepsy, and severe pain in trigeminal neuralgia.

The FDA granted fast-track designation to basimglurant last year for the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia, a chronic condition that affects the trigeminal nerve carrying sensations from the face to the brain, which can cause excruciating pain.

It has few treatment options, with therapy mainly relying on carbamazepine, a decades-old anticonvulsant drug that has limited efficacy and can cause side effects including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, and tremors.

The four-year-old company is also running phase 2b trials of PDE10a inhibitor gemlapodect (NOE-105) in Tourette syndrome and childhood onset fluency disorder (COFD) – also known as stuttering – and is preparing mid-stage testing of NOE-115, a triple reuptake inhibitor for atypical depression and binge eating disorder.

Another compound inherited from Roche, mGluR2/3 inhibitor NOE-109, has yet to advance out of preclinical testing, where it is being evaluated for potential disease indications.

Along with the two lead investors, the round was joined by previous backers Sofinnova Partners, Polaris Partners, Gilde Healthcare, and Invus. Nanna Lüneborg from Forbion and Rachel Mears from Jeito Capital ware joining Noema’s board following the round.

Noema was founded in 2019 with a seed investment from Sofinnova partners and is led by chief executive Luigi Costa, former CEO of Nordic Nanovector and a senior executive at Onyx Pharma, ahead of its acquisition by Amgen in 2014.

The company’s chief medical officer, George Garibaldi, was previously a vice president in Roche’s R&D operations.

“This financing comes at a key time for Noema Pharma as we look forward to extensive news flow over the next 24 months,” said Costa, adding, they are "very pleased to have a world-class group of investors supporting our vision of bringing much-needed treatments to those living with debilitating central nervous system disorders.”