Nue Life Health lands $23M series A for ketamine therapy platform

Mental wellness startup Nue Life Health has raised $23 million to scale its telehealth platform for ketamine therapy, the company said Tuesday.

The startup provides what it calls an “integrated theurapeutic ecosystem,” including ketamine therapies and virtual aftercare programs post-treatment available through Nue Life's app.

The platform supports two treatment options, the first including a one-month subscription with six ketamine treatments and the second including a four-month subscription with 18 ketamine treatments.

Ketamine has emerged in recent years as a promising alternative to traditional medications used to treat mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. While the exact mechanisms of ketamine in the brain aren’t clear, the psychedelic appears to promote cortical plasticity, or the development of new neural connections.

"650 million people struggle with mental health worldwide, and there is a vital need for helping women, veterans, and other folks experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD that have not been helped by traditional treatments," said Juan Pablo Cappello, Nue Life co-founder and CEO, in a statement. "We're grateful for the support of Obvious Ventures, Western Technology Investment, and all of our investors to help us continue providing personalized treatment plans that drive profound change."

Nue Life’s programs aren’t cheap, with a one-month subscription priced at $1,250 ($208 per ketamine treatment) and a four-month subscription costing $2,750 ($153 per ketamine treatment), paid out of pocket. Each low-dose treatment comes in the form of a lozenge.

But intravenous infusions performed at ketamine clinics for behavioral health conditions are even more expensive, typically coming in between $400 and $800 per treatment, making Nue Life’s prices perhaps more viable for patients seeking multiple ketamine treatments.

While ketamine seems to have powerful antidepressant effects, doctors typically attribute long-term benefits to patients sorting through their underlying mental health issues during the treatment, when patients are in a meditative, dreamlike state, or in the weeks following the experience before the effects dwindle.

Nue Life offers music therapy, voice notes in the app for patients to keep an audio diary during treatments and peer group sessions to support the process, called integration.

The company’s services are available in New York, Florida, Texas, California, Colorado and Washington. The startup plans to expand to Georgia and Massachusetts this month and to “at least” 20 additional states by the end of the year.

Obvious Ventures led the series A round. Additional venture debt financing from Western Technology Investment contributed to the $23 million total.

The company last raised $3.3 million in seed funding in June 2021.

The only form of ketamine approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of depression is Johnson & Johnson’s Spravato, a nasal spray administered alongside oral antidepressants, which the agency signed off on in 2019.

Yet some companies are gunning for clinical trials to secure FDA approval for more ketamine-based products. In January, German startup Atai Life Sciences got FDA authorization to study a non-psychedelic form of the compound, R-ketamine, for treatment-resistant depression.

HMNC Brain Health and Develco Pharma have already advanced to phase 2 clinical trials with their oral prolonged-release ketamine candidate for treatment-resistant depression, the companies announced at the beginning of April.