Swiss biotech raises $50.6M to further hearing-loss drugs

Swiss biotech Auris Medical has raised $50.6 million in a Series C round of financing to advance its two major therapeutics for the treatment of inner ear disorders.

The company is developing cell-penetrating peptide drugs AM-101, for acute inner ear tinnitus--the ringing effect that follows trauma from noise or surgery--and AM-111 for acute sensorineural hearing loss.

"Having established proof of concept in Phase IIb studies, we are now ready to move forward with our clinical development plans," Thomas Meyer, Auris' founder and managing director said.

The fresh round of financing comes after the company in November 2012 reported positive results from a phase IIb for AM-111 conducted in Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic that involved 210 patients.

Auris also just wrapped up a Phase II clinical trial for AM-101 in the U.S., Belgium, Germany and Poland. According to a February statement on its website, the company will release results of the study this summer.

Leading venture capital firms Sofinnova Ventures of Menlo Park, CA, and Sofinnova Partners of Paris, France, participated in the financing.

Recently, Big Pharma has boosted its interest in developing drugs for hearing conditions--a potential multibillion market. Pfizer ($PFE) is in early-stage development of a treatment that improves the function of hair cells that impact hearing, and Swiss drug giant Roche ($RHHBY) partnered with Versant Ventures in October 2012 to advance research of hearing loss drugs. Novartis ($NVS) and Sanofi ($SNY) have stakes in this area of research, too.

- here's the press release from Auris