Lilly Acquires Hearing Loss Specialist Akouos

20.10.2022 - Lilly has agreed to acquire Akouos, a precision genetic medicine company that is developing gene therapy treatments for hearing loss. Both companies’ boards have approved the deal, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter and cost Lilly up to $610 million.

Based in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, Akouos has integrated expertise across otology, inner ear drug delivery and gene therapy. It is developing a portfolio of first-in-class adeno-associated viral gene therapies for treating inner ear conditions, including sensorineural hearing loss.

The company’s lead product candidate is AK-OTOF for treating hearing loss due to mutations in the otoferlin gene. Additional pipeline programs include AK-CLRN1 for Usher Type 3A, an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by progressive hearing and vision loss, as well as GJB2 to treat a common form of monogenic deafness and hearing loss. AK-antiVEGF is prescribed to treat vestibular schwannoma tumors.

"Gene therapy offers tremendous opportunity to provide durable treatments for patients with genetically defined disease; this is our second acquisition in gene therapy, following the 2021 acquisition of Prevail Therapeutics," said Daniel Skovronsky, Lilly's chief scientific and medical officer, and president of Lilly Research Laboratories. "With Akouos, we are optimistic that we can make a difference for people with hearing loss and other inner ear conditions."

In April, Lilly announced a $700 million investment in a new research hub in Boston that will focus on developing gene therapies when it opens in 2024.

Author: Elaine Burridge, Freelance Journalist