Lonza, Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEE) and Akouos, a new biotechnology company focused on restoring and preserving hearing with backing from leading life science investors, announced strategic license agreements for exclusive rights to the ancestral adeno-associated viral vectors (AAV) gene therapy platform for all hearing and balance disorders
The agreement with Akouos is designed to accelerate AAV gene therapy for hearing and balance disorder.
It builds on the existing ancestral AAV partnership between MEE and Lonza, and brings together world-class expertise and resources in hearing science research and development, clinical research and AAV manufacturing.
Akouos plans to build a premier gene therapy company focused on hearing and balance disorders with the close of a $7.5 million seed round led by 5AM Ventures and New Enterprise Associates (NEA), with participation from Partners Innovation Fund.
Kush Parmar, Managing Partner at 5AM Ventures and Ed Mathers, partner at NEA, join the Akouos Board of Directors as a result of the investment.
Concurrent with the financing, Akouos entered into the Anc-AAV gene therapy license agreements with Lonza and MEE.
Ancestral AAVs are in silico-designed AAVs, first developed in the laboratory of Dr Luk H. Vandenberghe, Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Grousbeck Gene Therapy Center at MEE.
“Our mission is to make healthy hearing available to all,” said Dr Manny Simons, founder and CEO of Akouos.
“To this end we are building the leading inner-ear gene therapy company. Our cornerstone partnership with MEE, the world’s largest hearing research center and with Lonza, a global leader in viral gene and cell therapy manufacturing, sets a strong foundation for the important work to be done in this emergent field.”
“This strategic licensing deal with Akouos, alongside our valued partner in MEE, is a key milestone on the path to delivering the next transformative class of gene therapies together,” said Marc Funk, COO, Lonza’s Pharma&Biotech segment.
“We are very excited to bring together such great talent to accelerate the progress in treatment of hearing and balance restoration disorders,” said Dr Bradley Welling, Chief of Otolaryngology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr Joan W. Miller, Chief of Ophthalmology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital, and the David Glendenning Cogan Professor of Ophthalmology and Chair of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.
“It is our mission to make a difference in the lives of patients.”