Decibel hires new CMO ahead of proof-of-concept hearing loss studies

Decibel Therapeutics has brought on a new chief medical officer as it plans to begin proof-of-concept and efficacy studies this year for its lead small molecule programs for hearing loss caused by drug toxicities.

The Boston-based company has tapped Peter Weber, M.D., head of otology and neurotology at Boston University Medical Center, and formerly CMO of Frequency Therapeutics. He will continue to practice part-time at BU while coming on board at Decibel.

Previously, Weber was the director of the Ear Institute at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary and head of otology/neurotology/skull base surgery for the Mount Sinai Health System. He also served as CMO and VP of reimbursement at implant manufacturer Cochlear Americas, and has held positions at the Medical University of South Carolina, the Cleveland Clinic and the Rocky Mountain Ear Center.

In addition, the company promoted its executive VP of corporate development, Paula Cobb, to chief operating officer. Before joining Decibel in 2016, Cobb held a variety of roles at Biogen, overseeing development and commercialization in a variety of indications, including as SVP of the rare disease group.

Decibel also lists four gene therapies and a biologic currently in the discovery phase, being developed in partnership with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, targeting different monogenic causes of hearing loss, as well as balance issues and tinnitus.

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The company picked up its first, phase 1 clinical candidate last September from the Seattle-based startup Oricula Therapeutics. The once-daily oral drug—aimed at preventing hearing loss and balance disorders following treatment with aminoglycoside antibiotics such as amikacin—is expected to complete testing in healthy volunteers early this year.

Its other lead product is designed to protect the inner ear against side effects from cisplatin treatment, by disabling the chemotherapy in the cochlea. Decibel is planning to launch signal-finding studies of the localized injection by mid-2019.