Swiss start-up Noema raises $59m to develop neurology drugs offloaded by Roche

Pills spilling out of a prescription bottle on 100 dollar paper currency

Swiss biotech Noema has raised 54 million Swiss francs ($59m) to develop four neurological disorder drugs licensed in from Roche.

The company is developing four phase 2 drugs brought in from Roche after the big Swiss pharma decided somebody else should take the risk of developing them.

Roche, which decided the products were surplus to requirements in an already-packed pipeline, also received a shareholding in Noema, in exchange for rights to the four clinical-stage product-candidates.

Lead product is NOE-101, an mGluR5 inhibitor that is ready for phase 2b trials in two indications – for persistent seizures in Tuberous Sclerosis Complex and severe pain in Trigeminal Neuralgia.

The company is also preparing NOE-15, a PDE10A inhibitor for phase 2b testing to treat Tourette Syndrome.

It also has two other clinical stage assets – mGluR2/3 inhibitor NOE-109 and NOE-115, a triple reuptake inhibitor that are being evaluated in undisclosed indications.

The latest financing round was co-led by Sofinnova Partners, a European life sciences venture capital firm based in Paris, London and Milan, and Polaris Partners, a healthcare and technology investment firm based in the US.

The global consortium of new international investors includes Gilde Healthcare, Invus and BioMed Partners.

Noema was founded last year with a seed investment from Sofinnova partners and is led by CEO Luigi Costa, former CEO of haematology and oncology firm Nordic Nanovector.

He was also a senior figure at Onyx Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Amgen in 2014 and led the company’s international organisation and the launch of multiple myeloma drug Kyprolis outside the US.

The company also has the expertise of George Garibaldi as chief medical officer, a former Roche vice-president.

Costa said: “The successful licensing of these exciting clinical-stage product-candidates from Roche, together with our up-sized CHF54 million Series A financing, will enable Noema to reach value-creating development milestones with all four products.”