NeuroPerspective Reviews/Previews 2021/2022

The Winter (January/February/March) 2022 issue of NeuroPerspective has been released. It provides a comprehensive review of 2021, a year that provided very little in the way of respite, though funding by institutional investors and partners came in third all-time, behind 2018 and the remarkable 2020. Partnering upfront payments were off 38% from 2020, institutionalization investment was down 28%. Neurodegeneration and Psychiatry continued to be the dominant sub-areas for investors.

There were some notable achievements and failures clinically, with the former including successes in the nascent but booming Psychedelics area from Compass and MAPS, underappreciated success for a stroke drug now partnered by Biogen, success in the Rett’s PhIII trial for Acadia/Neuren, and impressive results for Biohaven‘s zavegepant in acute migraine. No disappointment stood out more than the failure of Roche/Ionis‘ tominersen in Huntington’s which served as a reminder that even when there is a clear genetic target and payload, gene therapy is more challenging than some observers seem to have assumed. Accordingly, the valuations of several formerly high-flying gene therapy companies were significantly down during 2021.

Other highlights and Lowlights from 2021 are assessed. 2021 saw the advent of some very well-funded umbrella companies seeking to emulate the Bridge Bio model in CNS, including Neumora and Neurvati. One underappreciated dynamic is the return of some Big Pharmas to the neuro sector that had previously departed: GSK and Bristol Myers Squibb spent more than $800 million in neuro partnership upfront payments in 2021. Biogen in 2020 had been a high-profile acquirer of external resources, but in 2021 was more noteworthy for mistakes made, with the resurrection of Aduhelm/aducanumab constituting something far less than a regulatory gift, it has turned out to be a trap. Biogen will not benefit from the FDA’s largesse, but some other amyloid antibody programs, from Lilly, Eisai/Biogen, and Roche, most likely will. Alzheimer’s was also the area where fragmentary, preliminary clinical ‘data’ fueled dramatic swings in investor sentiment for companies like Cassava and Annovis. This just sets the stage for a gathering flood of clinical datasets, in neurodegeneration and other areas, that will come between 2022 and 2024..

30% of all institutional investment in Psychiatry went to companies pursuing the development of Psychedelics as novel approaches to Psychiatry. But while almost $600 million was invested, even a company with positive clinical data, like Compass, found its valuation plummeting. The Psychedelics Update section of the Winter issue looks at developments in this sector and some of the higher profile companies within it, like Compass, Atai, MindMed, GH Research, and others.

120+ companies have capsule summaries of current activities and coming events, including AbbVieAcadia, Alector, Aptinyx,  Atai Life Sciences, Athira, Annovis, Axsome, Biogen, Biohaven, Cassava, Cortexyme, Denali,  EIP, Harmony, Karuna, Lilly, Lundbeck, Marinus,  Minerva,  Neurocrine Biosciences,  Novartis, Roche, Sage Therapeutics, Sunovion, Takeda, UCB, Xenon, and many more.

NeuroPerspective is now a quarterly review of the neurotherapeutics area offering unique and comprehensive coverage of developments in the science and the business of the CNS sector. 1-5 reader subscriptions are US$2950 per year, 6-10 user subscriptions are $4950.