Precision genetic medicine startup Akouos secures $105M Series B funding to develop gene therapies for hearing disorders
Akouos, a Boston, MA-based precision genetic medicine startup developing potential gene therapies to restore, improve or preserve hearing, has raised $105 million $105M Series B funding. The oversubscribed funding was led by Pivotal bioVenture Partners, with participation from new investors Cormorant Asset Management, Cowen Healthcare Investments, EcoR1 Capital, Fidelity Management & Research Company, Polaris Founders Fund. Existing investors, 5AM Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, Novartis Venture Fund, Partners Innovation Fund, RA Capital Management and Sofinnova Investments also joined the round.
Akouos will use the new capital infusion to advance Akouos’s lead program, AK-OTOF, to first-in-human clinical studies subject to IND filing and acceptance, establish the company’s in-house GMP manufacturing capabilities at its new offices in the Boston Seaport, accelerate the development of multiple pipeline programs that address other forms of sensorineural hearing loss with well-defined mechanisms and/or gene targets, and expand its team across research, clinical development and manufacturing. In conjunction with this financing, the company has appointed Vicki Sato, Ph.D., and Heather Preston, M.D., to its board of directors.
Launched in 2017 by Dr. Manny Simons, CEO, Akouos focuses on restoring and preserving hearing. In conjunction with the funding, Akouos entered into strategic license agreements with Lonza and Massachusetts Eye and Ear for exclusive rights to the Anc-AAV gene therapy platform for all hearing and balance disorders. Leveraging its adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector-based gene therapy platform, Akouos is focused on developing precision therapies for forms of sensorineural hearing loss. The company’s first gene therapy development program, AK-OTOF, is for individuals with sensorineural hearing loss due to mutations in the otoferlin (OTOF) gene.
“This year is poised to be one of growth for Akouos, and we are delighted to have the support from a world-class syndicate of investors in our Series B financing to advance our current programs and pipeline of potential genetic medicines for hearing loss,” said Manny Simons, Ph.D., founder, president and CEO of Akouos. “We are also pleased to welcome Drs. Sato and Preston, two highly regarded life science leaders, to our board of directors. Together, these milestones bring us closer to potentially providing new options to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, who have limited therapeutic options today.”
Before joining Akouos’ board, Dr. Sato was a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School from 2006 until her retirement in 2017 and was also a professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at Harvard University from 2005 until 2015. Previously, she served as president of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which she joined in 1992.