MDMA therapy company Lykos raises $100M in Series A funding as it eyes FDA approval (MarketWatch). MAPS Public Benefit Corp. changes name to Lykos Therapeutics.


Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation
Eir Therapeutics
KittyHawk Ventures
Bail Capital
Satori Neuro
Vine Ventures
The Joe and Sandy Samberg Foundation
True Ventures
Unlikely Collaborators Foundation.

MAPS Public Benefit Corp. said Friday it raised $100 million in an oversubscribed Series A round of financing as it works to win approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to become the first provider of psychedelic-assisted therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

MAPS Public Benefit Corp. said it’s also changing its name to Lykos Therapeutics, a name derived from the Greek word lykos, or wolf, which represents “bravery, courage, loyalty and intelligence” as qualities that resonate with the company.

Helena, which describes itself as a global problem-solving organization and investor, led the $100 million financing round for Lykos Therapeutics, with participation from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, Eir Therapeutics, KittyHawk Ventures, Bail Capital, Satori Neuro, Vine Ventures, The Joe and Sandy Samberg Foundation, True Ventures and Unlikely Collaborators Foundation.

Amy Emerson

San Jose, Calif.-based Lykos Therapeutics is led by Chief Executive Amy Emerson, who started consulting in 2003 with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which is the non-profit parent of MAPS Public Benefit Corp.

MAPS then established MAPS Public Benefit Corp. in 2014 to focus on psychedelic drug development.

After conducting two Phase III trials for MDMA-assisted therapy, MAPS Public Benefit Corp. applied to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration last month for a new drug application.

Lykos Therapeutics Chief Executive Emerson said the funding round comes at a critical time as the company transitions to a commercialization stage for MDMA-assisted therapy from a development-stage company.

Helena Managing Partner Suprotik (Protik) Basu is joining the board of Lykos Therapeutics. He has been working on public-health financing projects for more than 20 years, the company said.

“This strong funding round, combined with the Phase III results and recent new drug application submission to the FDA, position Lykos to continue its journey to help transform mental health, and to help address the large unmet need,” Basu said in a statement.

Lykos Therapeutics is aimed at an estimated 13 million Americans who suffer from PTSD1.

Lykos’s Emerson previously worked for Novartis NVS, -1.45%, Chiron and other pharmaceutical companies. 

Ambria Capital, a firm that donated to MAPS Public Benefit Corp., told MarketWatch earlier this week that the FDA could approve the therapy by August.

The company’s efforts must then be focused on rolling out the clinical infrastructure to offer PTSD therapy with MDMA, which is also called molly or ecstasy.

MDMA has already been granted “breakthrough therapy” status by the FDA.

The drug would only be administered in a therapeutic setting, to help avoid its common recreational use as a club drug available on the illicit market.

MDMA, which stands for methylenedioxy-methamphetamine, is part of an entactogen compound, part of a class of psychoactive substances that are differentiated from classic psychedelics. They’re known for increasing self-awareness that in turn leads to introspection and personal reflection, the company said.

Also read: Why the founder of the shoe brand Toms is pledging $100 million to psychedelic research