July 18 (Reuters) - Softbank-backed Neumora Therapeutics' experimental drug navacaprant has helped reduce symptoms of depression in patients with moderate-to-severe forms of the disorder in a mid-stage trial, the company said on Tuesday.

Neumora, whose investors include SoftBank Vision Fund and Amgen, said it would begin late-stage studies of the drug in some patients with major depressive disorder (MDD).

Navacaprant showed statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvements along scales that measure symptoms of depression and anhedonia - a feature of MDD that impairs the capacity to experience or anticipate pleasure - in patients, Neumora said.

The drug, which is being studied as an oral once-daily treatment for MDD, works by modulating the brain chemical dopamine and reward-processing pathways that play an important role in regulating cognition, reward responses and behavior.

The trial, initiated by BlackThorn Therapeutics prior to its acquisition by Neumora in 2020, originally enrolled only mild-to-moderate MDD patients in the U.S.

Neumora subsequently amended the trial to enroll patients with moderate-to-severe depression.

The company said the drug did not achieve statistical significance in reducing depression compared to a placebo at Week 8, which was the main goal of the original study designed by BlackThorn.

Depression affects about 16 million American adults every year, according to government data.

Separately, the drug developer named former AbbVie executive Henry Gosebruch its new CEO, replacing co-founder Paul Berns. Berns will transition to the role of executive chairman and will continue to chair the board, Neumora said. (Reporting by Vaibhav Sadhamta and Raghav Mahobe in Bengaluru; Editing by Pooja Desai)