Acousia Therapeutics (Acousia), a leader in the discovery and development of novel therapies in inner ear-related diseases and pathologies, today announced the closing of a EUR 10 million Series B financing round to advance its pipeline of preclinical drug candidates into clinical stage. The financing was led by new investor LBBW Venture Capital, and joined by other new investors, Creathor Ventures and Bregua Corporation. Existing investors, Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund (BIVF) and Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) also participated in the round.
Hearing impairment, which affects an estimated 10–15 % of those in the developed world, is predominantly caused by the irreversible loss of sensory hair cells in the cochlea of the inner ear. Age-related hearing loss is the most prevalent form of impairment, but other causes include noise trauma, treatment with ototoxic therapies – like chemotherapy medication, cisplatin – various infectious diseases and ischemia-reperfusion injury.
Traditional approaches to repairing hearing loss centre around prosthetics (i. e. hearing aid devices). Acousia however develops drug candidates based on small molecules for the protection, repair and restoration of inner sensory cell function. The company’s most advanced drug candidate ACOU085 is being developed for clinical application in otoprotection (cisplatin-related) and will be profiled in functional improvement of hair cells.
Dr. Christoph Antz, CEO of Acousia said: “This investment will enable us to advance the development of our small molecules-based drug candidates. Further preclinical and clinical studies will enhance our drugs’ profile for the improvement of sensory hair cell responsiveness. This might benefit patients suffering from chronic hearing loss due to ototoxic substances or conditions like noise or age. We look very much forward to working with this team of experienced life science investors.”
Dr. Michael Bös, CSO of Acousia added: “The medical need for hearing impairment treatment is tremendous, and we expect it to further increase dramatically over the next decades, mainly due to the demographic shift leading to more age-related hearing loss.”
Dr. Harald Poth, Senior Investment Manager at LBBW said: “The Acousia team has developed an impressive portfolio of small molecule drug candidates with a unique mode of action. Working with Acousia in developing therapies for both otoprotection and functional improvement of hair cells, we can see great potential to offer a wide range of solutions for patients.”
Dr. Frank Kalkbrenner, Chairman of the Board of Acousia and Director of BIVF commented: “With the investment of this round we will be in a position to quickly advance the drug candidates to mid-stage clinical phase and further the development of innovative therapies for protection against hearing loss.”
About hearing loss
Hearing impairment is the most frequent human sensory deficit, estimated to affect at least 10–15 % of the population in the developed countries. It is predominantly caused by the irreversible loss of sensory hair cells in the cochlea of the inner ear, after exposure to intensive noise (noise trauma) or treatment with certain drugs such as ototoxic (i. e. damages on the ear or its nerve supply) compounds used for chemotherapy and some antibiotics. In addition, various infectious diseases or the ischemia-reperfusion injury of the inner ear can lead to partial or total hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss, i. e. the progressive and irreversible loss of sensory hair cells over the patients’ life span, represents however by far the most predominant form of hearing loss.