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Akouos Raises $50 Million Series A Financing and Expands Team to Advance Precision Genetic Therapies That Restore and Preserve Hearing

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Company expands leadership team, board of directors and launches
scientific advisory board with leading scientists and physicians in the
hearing and gene therapy fields

Akouos,
a precision genetic medicine company developing gene therapies that
restore and preserve hearing, today announced the Company has raised $50
million in Series A financing. Seed investors 5AM Ventures and New
Enterprise Associates (NEA) co-led the round, and were joined by
existing seed investor Partners Innovation Fund and new investors
Sofinnova Ventures, RA Capital Management and Novartis Venture Fund.

Akouos is developing targeted adeno-associated viral vector (AAV)-based
gene therapies for sensorineural hearing loss, which results from
dysfunction or damage to sensory cells and/or nerve fibers of the inner
ear. Sensorineural hearing loss is found in most cases of newborn
deafness and affects nearly a quarter of all adults over the age of 65,
making it the most common form of hearing loss and one of the most
common of all sensory disorders. The Company is initially focused on
monogenic forms of sensorineural hearing loss, in which mutations in
individual genes lead to profound deafness.

"Hearing loss is one of the greatest challenges in medicine today, and
with no FDA-approved therapies available, an area of severe unmet need,"
said Manny Simons, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Akouos. "Akouos has a
unique opportunity to bring forward the world's first precision
medicines for individuals with genetically-driven forms of hearing loss.
The expansion of our team and investor base, in addition to our founding
partnerships with Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Lonza, puts us in a
strong position to advance the clinical studies that will convert the
promise of our approach into meaningful therapies."

Proceeds from the financing will allow the Company to advance its lead
program to first-in-human clinical studies, and to accelerate the
development of multiple pipeline programs that address other forms of
sensorineural hearing loss with validated mechanisms and gene targets.

"Though hearing loss is one of the most common health problems in the
United States, there are no therapies that treat its underlying causes,"
said Kush Parmar, M.D., Ph.D., managing partner at 5AM Ventures. "Akouos
has assembled the world's leaders in neurotology, genetics, inner ear
drug delivery and gene therapy under one roof to develop gene therapies
that aim to improve hearing with a one-time administration. This team,
focused on highly validated biology and targeted delivery, and
leveraging a state-of-the-art proprietary platform technology, is
uniquely positioned to change the standard of care for hearing
disorders."

Expansion of Board and Leadership Team

In conjunction with the financing, Akouos expanded its board of
directors with two independent directors: Arthur Tzianabos, Ph.D.,
president and CEO of Homology Medicines, and Christopher Smith, former
CEO of Cochlear Ltd. Dr. Tzianabos and Mr. Smith join existing board
members Dr. Simons, Dr. Parmar and Ed Mathers, partner at NEA.

The Company also announced the expansion of its leadership team with the
appointment of Michael McKenna, M.D., as chief medical officer and
Jennifer Wellman as senior vice president, regulatory. Dr. McKenna, a
scientific co-founder of Akouos, is a world-renowned neurotologist and
pioneer of translational inner ear drug delivery approaches. He holds
the Joseph B. Nadol, Jr. Chair and is the most recent director of the
Division of Otology and Neurotology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, and
has been professor of otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School since
2006. Ms. Wellman is a veteran in AAV gene therapy development, with
broad translational experience across multiple therapeutic areas over
the past two decades. She was a co-founder of Spark Therapeutics, Inc.,
where she led regulatory strategy from pre-IND through BLA acceptance
for LuxturnaTM, the first in vivo gene therapy
approved in the United States.

Formation of Scientific Advisory Board

Akouos announced the formation of its scientific advisory board,
comprised of world-leading experts and physicians in gene therapy and
hearing loss:

  • Luk Vandenberghe, Ph.D., chair and founder – director of the
    Grousbeck Gene Therapy Center, Massachusetts Eye and Ear; assistant
    professor of ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School
  • Jean Bennett, M.D., Ph.D. – F.M. Kirby Professor of
    Ophthalmology, University of Pennsylvania
  • Michael McKenna, M.D., founder – chief medical officer, Akouos,
    and the Joseph B. Nadol, Jr. Chair at Massachusetts Eye and Ear
  • William Sewell, Ph.D., founder – professor of otolaryngology,
    Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Harvard Medical School
  • Richard Smith, M.D., founder – founding director of the Iowa
    Institute of Human Genetics and the Molecular Otolaryngology and Renal
    Research Laboratories; professor of otolaryngology, pediatrics,
    medicine and molecular physiology & biophysics, University of Iowa
  • Aaron Tward, M.D., Ph.D. – assistant professor in residence,
    department of otolaryngology - head and neck surgery, University of
    California at San Francisco

"Akouos is leading the investigation of innovative therapies for a range
of monogenic and acquired hearing disorders," said Dr. McKenna. "There
are more than 150 forms of genetically-defined forms of hearing loss,
and additional implicated genes continue to be identified. Furthermore,
the role of genetics in more complex forms of acquired hearing loss is
becoming clearer with an increase in genome sequencing worldwide.
Together, with a world-class operating and advisory team, and our
scientific collaborators around the globe, I am excited to help the
company accelerate the development of our pipeline and bring meaningful
options to the millions of individuals and families suffering from
hearing loss."

About Akouos

Akouos is a precision genetic medicine company developing gene therapies
that restore and preserve hearing. Leveraging its adeno-associated viral
vectors (AAV)-based gene therapy platform, Akouos is focused on
developing precision therapies for forms of sensorineural hearing loss.
Headquartered in Boston, the Company was founded in 2016 by world
leaders in the fields of neurotology, genetics, inner ear drug delivery
and AAV gene therapy. Akouos has strategic partnerships with
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Lonza, Inc. For more
information, please visit www.akouos.com.

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