Acousia strives to keep people connected by combatting hearing loss
Hearing loss has far reaching effects, which extend beyond a diminished capacity to converse and communicate. Studies have shown that hearing impairments increase feelings of isolation and depression. In younger patients, hearing disabilities can result in developmental deficits. Furthermore, there has been increasing support for studies showing that it is the most important mid-life risk factor for developing dementia2. Since hearing loss is the leading cause of disability among the elderly, this is an increasingly serious concern.
Acousia Therapeutics GmbH
Pioneering therapeutics for a rapidly growing and largely untapped market
Hearing loss – one of the world's greatest unmet medical needs
1.5 billion people experience some decline in their hearing capacity during their lives. According to the WHO, the number of people affected will rise to 2.5 billion by 2050.1 Etiologies range from genetic and biological to behavioral and environmental factors.
Over 90 percent of all hearing loss is due to problems in the inner ear, which result in sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). More than 40 million US patients are affected. The other 10 percent is caused by damage to the middle and outer ear (conductive hearing loss – CHL). Hearing aids and cochlear implants (CI) often help patients regain a certain degree of hearing. However, due to technical limitations, they are unable to restore natural hearing.
Figure: Number of people with hearing loss 2022 and WHO expectations for 2055.1
Novel medical approaches to overcome the limitations of hearing aids and CI
The current market penetration for hearing aids is a surprisingly low 20 percent. This is partly due to lack of access and partly the result of physical discomfort and handling difficulties that many patients face. Nevertheless, annual sales figures for hearing devices in the US amount to USD 10 billion. With 1.5 billion people suffering from hearing loss worldwide, the market is ripe for an alternative solution.
Current therapeutic strategies like antioxidant otoprotection, sensorineural cell regeneration, and gene therapies still face significant medical, scientific, and technical challenges. As a result, no medications have been approved for the treatment of the various forms of hearing loss to date.
Advanced small molecule candidates to enhance and preserve natural hearing
At Acousia, we develop small molecule drug candidates with a dual mode of action that is suitable for both acute and chronic forms of hearing loss. We focus on sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), targeting the major sensorineural cell types in the inner ear – the so-called outer hair cells – to enhance and preserve a patient’s natural hearing ability.
We envision our therapeutic approach as a stand-alone first line option and as a complementary form of treatment alongside hearing aids and CI.
We are seizing on the manifold SNHL market opportunities with the expertise of our experienced team and exclusive access to a best-in-class hearing research lab. Acousia has a strong intellectual property portfolio, with two composition of matter patents and one (pending) formulation patent.
- World report on hearing. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2021.
- Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report by the Lancet Commission. Livingston G, Jonathan Huntley J, Sommerlad A, Ames D, Ballard C, Banerjee S et al. Published: July 30, 2020. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30367-6
Management and Boards
Our entrepreneurial management team boasts extensive experience in the medical field and ample business know-how.
Board of Directors
Our Board of Directors is made up of some of the most accomplished corporate development leaders in the biotech sector.
Dr. Christine Lemke, Chair of Board
Now SVP of Portfolio & Growth Strategy at Absci, Christine has 20+ years of experience in corporate and business development, R&D, operations, and financial management in the pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotech sectors. Her previous experience at Bayer and Shire laid the groundwork for her deep knowledge of R&D strategizing in the industry.
Dr. Frank Kalkbrenner, Member of the Board
As Managing Director of Acousia’s lead investor, Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) Venture Fund, Frank brings extensive experience in drug discovery and development as well as licensing and business development.
Prof. Dr. Hubert Löwenheim, Member of the Board
As Chair and Medical Director of the OHNS University Clinic in Tuebingen and Principal Investigator of the “UKT Translational Hearing Research Group”, Hubert contributes extensive experience in the field of hearing loss and need for effective therapies, broadly spanning scientific and clinical research as well as clinical practice, with more than 100 papers published throughout his career.
Dr. Harald Poth, Member of the Board
With his 21 years of investment experience, Harald is a Senior Investment Manager at LBBW Venture Capital GmbH where heads the Life Science Team. He is also currently Chairman of the Board of Phenex Pharmaceuticals AG, and Actitrexx GmbH.
Thomas Hoffmann, Member of the Board
As a co-founder and former CFO of Phenex Pharmaceuticals AG, Thomas has 20 years of experience in the biotechnology industry as well as extensive involvement in numerous transactions, including major licensing and asset deals, trade sales, financing rounds, and public offerings.
Scientific Advisory Board
Our Scientific Advisory Board consists of some of the leading minds in the field of cochlea research and therapies.
Prof. Dr. Christoph Arnoldner
As the Vice Chairman Department of Otolaryngology at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria, Christoph has deep knowledge of otology, neurotology, and skull base surgery. His lab research on psychoacoustic studies with cochlear implants and his focus on animal models of cochlear implantation have earned him several grants from the Austrian Science Fund.
Prof. Dr. Serena Preyer
As Head of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, and Facial Plastic Surgery at the ViDia Christliche Kliniken in Karlsruhe, Germany and Associate Professor for otorhinolaryngology of the University of Tübingen (Germany), Serena has expounded on her already thorough knowledge of transduction and pathological transduction in the inner ear. She also founded the Otologic Center in Karlsruhe in 2016.
Prof. Pascal Senn, MD
Beyond his role as the Chairman of Otorhinolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery at the University Hospital in Geneva, Switzerland, Pascal is also the principal investigator at the laboratory for inner ear and olfaction research at the University of Geneva. This has given him wide-ranging insight into inner ear regeneration, inner ear protection, and olfactive regeneration.
Co-operating with leading institutions in hearing loss research and development
Acousia has several exclusive co-operations with leading institutions in the field of hearing loss research and development. We work closely with UKT Translational Hearing Research Group of Tuebingen University, which is dedicated to both interdisciplinary basic research and applied development in the fields of normal and pathological sensory processing of hearing, balance, smell, and taste.
We also partner with Hearing Loss Association of America, Royal National Institute for Deaf People (UK), and Stiftung Tinnitus und Hören Charité (Germany).