Akouos, a Boston, MA-based new biotechnology company focused on restoring and preserving hearing, closed a $7.5m seed round of funding.
The round was led by 5AM Ventures and New Enterprise Associates, with participation from Partners Innovation Fund. In conjunction with the funding, Kush Parmar, managing partner at 5AM Ventures, and Ed Mathers, partner at NEA, joined Akouos’ 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.
Anc-AAVs are in silico-designed adeno-associated viral vectors (AAVs), first developed in the laboratory of Dr. Luk H. Vandenberghe, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, and Director of the Grousbeck Gene Therapy Center at Massachusetts Eye and Ear. Under the terms of the agreements, Akouos obtains an exclusive field license to the Anc-AAV IP estate and broad sublicensing rights.
Building upon an existing Anc-AAV partnership between Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Lonza, the agreement with Akouos is designed to accelerate AAV gene therapy development for hearing and balance disorders.
Scientific founders are
– Michael J. McKenna, M.D., a neurotologist with expertise in translational inner ear drug delivery research.
– William F. Sewell, Ph.D., is an expert in inner ear drug delivery and pharmacokinetics.
– Richard H. Smith, M.D., is a physician-scientist in the field of hereditary hearing loss.
– Luk H. Vandenberghe, Ph.D., is distinguished for his breakthroughs in the AAV field, including the discovery and characterization of new AAV serotypes, and improved understanding of immune responses to AAV vectors.
Drs. McKenna, Sewell, Smith, and Vandenberghe hold equity and serve on the Scientific Advisory Board of Akouos. In addition, Dr. Vandenberghe is a listed inventor on Anc-AAV intellectual property licensed to Lonza and Akouos for which he receives royalties.