Pharma Focus Asia

Lilly to Acquire Akouos to Discover and Develop Treatments for Hearing Loss

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Eli Lilly and Company and Akouos, Inc. today announced a definitive agreement for Lilly to acquire Akouos, a precision genetic medicine company that is developing a portfolio of first-in-class adeno-associated viral gene therapies for the treatment of inner ear conditions, including sensorineural hearing loss.

"We are honored to work with the talented team at Akouos who are breaking new ground in the science of treating hearing loss," said Andrew C. Adams, Ph.D., senior vice president of genetic medicine and co-director of the Institute for Genetic Medicine, Lilly. "We believe that with Lilly's resources, global reach, and growing capabilities in gene therapy, we can help Akouos fulfill their mission of making healthy hearing available to all."

Akouos has integrated expertise across otology, inner ear drug delivery, and gene therapy with the goal of addressing the needs of people living with disabling hearing loss worldwide. Akouos's lead product candidate, AK-OTOF, is a gene therapy for the treatment of hearing loss due to mutations in the otoferlin gene (OTOF). Additional pipeline programs span across multiple inner ear conditions, and include AK-CLRN1 for Usher Type 3A, an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by progressive loss of both hearing and vision; GJB2 (which encodes connexin 26) for a common form of monogenic deafness and hearing loss; and AK-antiVEGF for the treatment of vestibular schwannoma.

"I am proud of the commitment and passion of our team, which has established Akouos as a pioneer in inner ear genetic medicine, as demonstrated by our work to advance the first investigational therapy for a genetic form of hearing loss into clinical development," said Emmanuel Simons, Ph.D., M.B.A., co-founder, president, and chief executive officer of Akouos. "Joining Lilly – a company that shares our purpose to make life better for people around the world – will help us accelerate the development of a broad pipeline of inner ear genetic medicines."  

Under the terms of the transaction, Lilly will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Akouos for $12.50 per share in cash, plus one contingent value right (CVR) of up to $3.00 per share. The deal has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies.

"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," added Daniel Skovronsky, M.D., Ph.D., 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."

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