Eli Lilly and Company announced today that it intends to acquire Akouos, a developer of gene therapies focused on treating hearing loss, for $12.50 per share, or a total of $487 million payable at the closing of the deal. The agreement also includes one non-tradeable contingent value right per share bringing the potential total of the deal to $610 million.
“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, PhD, senior vice president of genetic medicine and co-director of the Institute for Genetic Medicine, Lilly in a press release announcing the deal. “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.”
The planned acquisition of Akouos is the latest big dollar commitment by Lilly to build a robust gene therapy pipeline across multiple indications. In 2021, the company established a foothold in the sector via its acquisition of Prevail Therapeutics in a deal that could eventually exceed $1 billion for its portfolio of clinical-stage and preclinical neuroscience candidates. At the time of acquisition this clinical pipeline included gene therapy candidates addressing Parkinson’s disease, Gaucher disease and frontotemporal dementia. Preclinical candidates included those seeking to address Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and other neurodegenerative disorders.
Furthering this commitment to gene therapies, Lilly announced in February the launch of the Lilly Institute for Genetic Medicine which includes a $700 million investment to develop a state-of-the-art facility in the Boston Seaport area. The Institute will operate in both Boston and in New York at the Prevail Therapeutics facility. According to the company the new Institute will “fuel the development of genetic medicines, which already account for more than 20% of Lilly’s diabetes, immunology, and central nervous system research portfolio.”
Within five years, Lilly projects the Boston site will grow from 120 to more than 250 research biologists, chemists, data scientists and other experts in genetic medicine, while the New York site will grow to include up to 200 scientists.
With the planned Akouos acquisition, Lilly will acquire a company with expertise in otology, inner ear drug delivery, and gene therapy focused on provide therapies addressing hearing loss. It’s lead candidate is AK-OTOF, a gene therapy for the treatment of hearing loss due to mutations in the otoferlin gene (OTOF). Other candidates in the pipeline 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, PhD, MBA, co-founder, president, and CEO 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.”