Hearing loss drug developer Decibel rounds up $55M in series C

hearing ear
Decibel was launched by Third Rock Ventures in 2015 with $52 million in funding. (Pixabay/tung256)

Decibel Therapeutics has raised an additional $55 million in series C financing, with plans to advance its drug candidate platform and discovery efforts in hearing loss, tinnitus and related disorders.

Following the funding round, George Scangos, former Biogen CEO and current CEO of Vir Biotechnology, was named chair of Decibel’s board of directors. Anthony Philippakis, a venture partner at GV—the firm formerly known as Google Ventures, which invested in the Boston-based biotech last year with an undisclosed amount—also joined the board.

All the company’s previous investors joined the new round, including GV, Third Rock Ventures, SR One and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. New investors also participated, including Foresite Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, Schroder Adveq, S-Cubed, Longevity and others.

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Decibel formed a unique discovery partnership with Regeneron late last year. The two companies plan to work together on R&D projects, with research funding and support from Regeneron—but with Decibel retaining exclusive future commercialization rights.

Regeneron has taken a significant but not dominant equity position the company and will provide gene sequencing data and help optimize full-human antibodies, according to Decibel CEO Steve Holtzman, who took the helm in 2016. Holtzman previously served as executive VP of corporate development at Biogen.

RELATED: Third Rock Ventures launches Decibel Therapeutics with $52M series A financing

"We are gratified by the support of our existing investors and delighted to be joined by a group of distinguished new investment partners who share our vision of building the world’s leading hearing therapeutics company,” Holtzman said in a statement announcing the series C financing. “Our new partners have track records of long-term commitments to building great companies, including following their private investments with meaningful participation in subsequent public financings.”

In February, at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology, Decibel presented (PDF) poster data from preclinical studies exploring hearing loss as a side effect of cisplatin, sequencing the genes of cochlear hair cells and mapping the transcriptomes from mouse cochlea.