Regeneron Investing Heavily in Gene Therapies for Hearing Loss – $109M Deal

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, a New York-based biotech, is investing in its long-term partnership with Decibel Therapeutics with the purchase of the company for $109 million. The acquisition will give Regeneron an edge in the gene therapy and hearing loss sectors.

After years of research and collaboration into treatments for congenital hearing loss, Decibel’s gene therapy-based treatments have now been fully brought under the umbrella of Regeneron. This move marks an exciting shift towards clinical-stage focus for Decibel, bringing a fresh perspective to the field of hearing loss.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals recently struck a deal to acquire Decibel Therapeutics, agreeing to pay $4 per share up front and offering another $3.50 per share should certain milestones for Decibel’s lead product, DB-OTO, be achieved. This payout adds up to a total of $109 million in upfront cash, with the possibility of another $104 million if the conditions set forth are met.

In 2017, Regeneron and Decibel entered into a mutually-beneficial partnership to treat hearing loss worldwide, supported by Regeneron’s suite of innovative technologies and financial contributions to Decibel. In exchange, Regeneron will receive royalties on any discoveries made that result in a commercial product. Decibel remains in control of all development and commercialization rights.

In 2021, Regeneron and the collaborating companies decided to extend their partnership up until November 2023, at which point Regeneron will pay a $10 million extension fee in the final quarter of 2022. This extended collaboration is sure to position the companies for further success!

Regeneron’s acquisition announcement revealed a focus on “three gene therapy programs targeting different forms of congenital, monogenic hearing loss”. Chief among these is the investigational therapy, DB-OTO – an adeno-associated virus (AAV) therapy currently being evaluated in the Phase I/II CHORD clinical trial.

The purpose of this exciting medical research is to investigate the effectiveness of the innovative therapy in children and infants suffering from hearing loss caused by mutations in the otoferlin gene. By replacing the defective gene with a virus, DB-OTO holds the promise to offer much needed relief from hearing loss.

Regeneron is excited to announce the acquisition of Decibel’s assets, and the addition of their experienced team, to bolster their genetic medicines portfolio. Through this move, Regeneron will be able to enhance the development of pioneering genetic and hearing loss therapies – accelerating the innovation of treatments and the growth of their pipeline.

According to George Yancopoulos, Regeneron’s President and Chief Scientific Officer, this acquisition is a great move for the company and will further their mission to create modern and innovative medicines.

The acquisition of Decibel in 2021 came at an opportune moment – just after the company’s public offering of $127 million in stock. Unfortunately, by May 2023, the stock had plummeted a staggering 80%, leaving the company with only enough cash to make it to mid-2024. Now, the acquisition brings optimism to the future of Decibel and provides a much needed lifeline for the company.

Regeneron is continuing to expand its groundbreaking work in gene therapies targeting vision loss, having recently signed a collaboration and option agreement with German biotech ViGeneron GmbH to develop treatments for inherited retinal disease. But the company’s ambitions don’t stop there; they also acquired Checkmate Pharmaceuticals, a cancer drug developer, further boosting their ever-growing portfolio. With Regeneron’s cutting-edge approach, they are sure to make a significant impact in the medical field.

Regeneron is among the biotechnologies vigorously researching inherited otoferlin deficiency, and it’s not alone. Eli Lilly has invested a whopping $487 million in Akous to gain access to its top candidate. Going one step further, French company Sensorion has already petitioned European regulators for the go-ahead to initiate a clinical trial. Clearly, the world is abuzz with the promising prospects of tackling the disorder.

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