Precision Genetic Medicine Company Akouos Secures $105 Million In Funding

By Noah Long ● March 5, 2020
  • Akouos, a precision genetic medicine company that is developing potential gene therapies to restore, improve, or preserve hearing, announced it raised $105 million

Akouos — a precision genetic medicine company that is developing potential gene therapies to restore, improve, or preserve hearing — announced it has raised $105 million in funding in an oversubscribed Series B financing 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, Pagsgroup, Surveyor Capital (a Citadel company), Wu Capital, and several other institutional investors.

Existing investors, 5AM Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, Novartis Venture Fund, Partners Innovation Fund, RA Capital Management and Sofinnova Investments also participated in the round. In connection with the funding, the company appointed Vicki Sato, Ph.D. and Heather Preston, M.D. to the board of directors.

“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 Akouos president and CEO Manny Simons, Ph.D. “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.”

The funding from this round will be used for advancing Akouos’s lead program, AK-OTOF, to first-in-human clinical studies subject to IND filing and acceptance and establish the company’s in-house GMP manufacturing capabilities at its new offices in the Boston Seaport. Plus it will be used for accelerating 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.

Dr. Sato is known as an accomplished executive and scientist with an extensive background advising and leading companies in life sciences innovation. And she was a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School from 2006 until her retirement in 2017 and worked as a professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at Harvard University from 2005 until 2015. Before that, she served as president of Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Sato also served as vice president of research at Biogen. And she is a member of the board of directors of Bristol Myers Squibb Company, BorgWarner, Denali Therapeutics, and VIR Biotechnology.

And Dr. Preston joined Pivotal bioVenture Partners as managing partner in 2018. Before joining Pivotal, Dr. Preston spent 13 years with TPG Biotech where she was a firm partner and managing director. Before TPG, Dr. Preston spent two years investing with JP Morgan Partners and was an entrepreneur-in-residence with New Enterprise Associates. Plus Dr. Preston also spent five years at McKinsey & Co. in New York where she was a leader of their pharmaceutical and medical products consulting practice. Dr. Preston trained in gastroenterology and hepatology at the University of California, San Francisco and internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.