GSK completes £1.3m Autifony investment
Funding set to accelerate development of hearing loss medicines
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has completed a £1.3m investment in Autifony Therapeutics, a UK biotech start-up specialising in the treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus.
GSK’s investment has secured around 850,000 shares in Autifony, representing a 25.4% minority equity stake. Under the terms of the agreement, GSK will receive further shares once specific milestones have been achieved. It is believed that Autifony will use the investment to accelerate preclinical development of its groundbreaking medicines, which are designed to protect and repair the ion channels within a person’s ear. Even before the funding was agreed, the two companies enjoyed an extremely close relationship. Autifony was set up by three senior research executives at GSK, and has received a number of pre-clinical assets, such as patents and prototypes, from the pharmaceutical giant. Charles Large, co-founder of Autifony and a former director of molecular and cellular biology at GSK, said: “There are currently no pharmacological treatments available for hearing loss or tinnitus despite the increasingly large number of patients, both old and young, that suffer from these conditions. “Autifony’s goal will be to find effective new medicines that can reduce the burden of suffering for this poorly served patient group.” Autifony’s other investors include SV Life Sciences and the Imperial Innovations Group, both of whom are thought to have contributed around £10m. The company has also cemented a long-term research partnership with University College London (UCL). Susan Searle, Imperial Innovations’ chief executive, said: “We have worked closely with Autifony, SV Life Sciences and GSK to successfully transfer the great potential of (the) pre-clinical assets to Autifony. “This is a creative approach to building new companies, leveraging established pharmaceutical assets together with the world class scientific expertise that exists at the UCL Ear Institute.”