Vanderbilt inks collaboration with precision neuroscience company Neumora to continue development of investigational treatment for neuropsychiatric disorders


Vanderbilt University has signed an exclusive, worldwide license and a research collaboration agreement with Neumora Therapeutics, Inc., a clinical-stage biotechnology company pioneering precision medicines for brain diseases through the integration of data science and neuroscience.  

The licensed program centers around the M4 muscarinic receptor positive allosteric modulator—including two new series of compounds—that targets schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric disorders. These modulators boost the activity of a compound, naturally produced by the body, that binds to and activates a receptor at a unique site.

Craig Lindsley, the William K. Warren, Jr. Chair in Medicine and University Professor of Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Chemistry
Craig Lindsley, the William K. Warren, Jr. Chair in Medicine and University Professor of Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Chemistry

This PAM and associated compounds, discovered in the labs of Warren Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery Director Craig Lindsley  and Director Emeritus P. Jeffrey Conn, have entered late preclinical development stages. In preclinical studies, they have been shown to be effective and safe compared to similar compounds and highly selective to the brain’s M4 receptor, which regulates neurotransmission of dopamine in a specific way. In schizophrenia, dopamine becomes overactive and is connected to hallmark symptoms like hallucinations and delusions.  

“We are excited to collaborate with Neumora to advance our novel M4 receptor PAM program,” said Lindsley, also a University Professor of pharmacology, biochemistry and chemistry who holds the William K. Warren, Jr. Chair in Medicine. “We believe Neumora is the optimal collaborator given the world-class team and unique capabilities that Neumora has built integrating data science and neuroscience drug development capabilities.” 

“We are excited to enter into this agreement with Vanderbilt and its Warren Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery,” said Paul L. Berns, co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Neumora. “Targeting the muscarinic receptor system is a clinically validated approach to treating schizophrenia, and we believe the M4 receptor positive allosteric modulator program discovered by WCNDD has best-in-class potential to address the tremendous unmet need for this disorder.” 

Neumora is progressing the lead series toward the nomination of a development candidate and plans to develop the M4 receptor modulator program for the treatment of schizophrenia through the development of Data Biopsy Signatures™ and Precision Phenotypes™. The research collaboration will support ongoing preclinical work at WCNDD to advance backup series of these highly selective M4 receptor PAMs. 

“Working with a company that is as enthusiastic and motivated about a target and disease as we are has made establishing this collaboration quite exciting,” said Thomas Utley, senior licensing officer at the Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization. “The team that Neumora has put together has been extremely impressive, and we know the continued development is in very good hands.”

Vanderbilt researchers who contributed to this research include Aaron Bender, Olivier Boutaud, Thomas Bridges, Darren W. Engers, Julie Engers, Allison Gregro, Carrie Jones, Colleen Niswender, Jerri Rook, Kayla Temple and numerous others.