Company expands leadership team, board of directors and launches scientific advisory board with leading scientists and physicians in the hearing and gene therapy fields
Boston, Mass. – August 7, 2018 – Akouos, a precision genetic medicine company developing gene therapies that restore and preserve hearing, today announced the Company has raised $50 million in Series A financing. Seed investors 5AM Ventures and New Enterprise Associates (NEA) co-led the round, and were joined by existing seed investor Partners Innovation Fund and new investors Sofinnova Ventures, RA Capital Management and Novartis Venture Fund.
Akouos is developing targeted adeno-associated viral vector (AAV)-based gene therapies for sensorineural hearing loss, which results from dysfunction or damage to sensory cells and/or nerve fibers of the inner ear. Sensorineural hearing loss is found in most cases of newborn deafness and affects nearly a quarter of all adults over the age of 65, making it the most common form of hearing loss and one of the most common of all sensory disorders. The Company is initially focused on monogenic forms of sensorineural hearing loss, in which mutations in individual genes lead to profound deafness.
“Hearing loss is one of the greatest challenges in medicine today, and with no FDA-approved therapies available, an area of severe unmet need,” said Manny Simons, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Akouos. “Akouos has a unique opportunity to bring forward the world’s first precision medicines for individuals with genetically-driven forms of hearing loss. The expansion of our team and investor base, in addition to our founding partnerships with Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Lonza, puts us in a strong position to advance the clinical studies that will convert the promise of our approach into meaningful therapies.”
Proceeds from the financing will allow the Company to advance its lead program to first-in-human clinical studies, and to accelerate the development of multiple pipeline programs that address other forms of sensorineural hearing loss with validated mechanisms and gene targets.
“Though hearing loss is one of the most common health problems in the United States, there are no therapies that treat its underlying causes,” said Kush Parmar, M.D., Ph.D., managing partner at 5AM Ventures. “Akouos has assembled the world’s leaders in neurotology, genetics, inner ear drug delivery and gene therapy under one roof to develop gene therapies that aim to improve hearing with a one-time administration. This team, focused on highly validated biology and targeted delivery, and leveraging a state-of-the-art proprietary platform technology, is uniquely positioned to change the standard of care for hearing disorders.”