Imperial Innovations commits £5m to Autifony

Imperial Innovations Group plc (AIM: IVO, 'Innovations' or 'the Group'), the UK's leading technology commercialisation and investment company, has committed to invest £5m in Autifony Therapeutics Ltd. ('Autifony') in a £10m funding round alongside £5m from SV Life Sciences. Following the investment Innovations will hold a 33.6% stake in the business.

Autifony is a spin-out from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) with preclinical assets targeting voltage-gated ion channels, the modulation of which is thought to have potential in the treatment of hearing disorders, including noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus. Following the funding round GSK will own 13.2% of Autifony.

The founding team of Charles Large, Chief Scientific Officer (CSO), previously Director of Molecular and Cellular Biology at GSK, and Giuseppe Alvaro, Head of Preclinical Drug Discovery, previously Chemistry Leader within GSK's Neuroscience division will be joined by an experienced and entrepreneurial board.  This will include non-executive Chairman John Berriman, formerly a director of Abingworth Management Ltd. and Celltech Group plc, and independent non-executive director Allan Baxter, former Senior Vice-President of Medicines Development at GSK.

Autifony's team will be working in collaboration with Professor David McAlpine and Jennifer Linden, leading experts in auditory neuroscience at University College London's (UCL) Ear Institute. UCL is a founding shareholder in Autifony.

Proceeds from the funding will be used to accelerate preclinical development with the objective of commencing human trials in early 2013.

Maina Bhaman, Director of Healthcare Investments at Imperial Innovations, will join the board of Autifony.

Susan Searle, Imperial Innovations' CEO, said:

"We have worked closely with Autifony, SV Life Sciences and GSK to successfully transfer the great potential of these 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."

Charles Large, Autifony's co-Founder and CSO, 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 represents an important opportunity to bring together our drug-discovery experience with the expertise of academic groups in this field, in particular the Ear Institute.  Autifony's goal will be to find effective new medicines that can reduce the burden of suffering for this poorly served patient group. "