Inner-ear drug delivery draws $50.6M for Auris Medical

Auris Medical raked in a $50.6 million financing round for its novel drug to treat inner-ear problems via an injection into the middle-ear cavity.

The Series C funds from Sofinnova Ventures and Sofinnova Partners will help the Swiss company push its AM-101 treatment for acute tinnitus and AM-111 treatment for acute inner-ear hearing loss into Phase III clinical trials. After beginning clinical trials back in 2006, Auris hopes to begin Phase III by the second half of this year, to ultimately bring the treatments to market in 2016, founder and managing director Thomas Meyer told FierceDrugDelivery.

The two drugs use novel methods of reaching the inner ear, Meyer said: AM-101 treats tinnitus with the use of passive diffusion across the tympanic membrane, or the eardrum, and the round window membrane of the ear, which allows the drug to reach the cochlea of the inner ear. AM-111, on the other hand, uses an active carrier in the form of a peptide to reach the same spot and treat hearing loss there. Both are administered via intratympanic injection, or injection into the eardrum.

"There are currently no products approved for an intratympanic procedure," Meyer said. "The concept has been around since the 1940s, but it was for off-label drugs. It was never used on a large scale and not adapted for middle-ear use."

The injected material itself consists of a polymer that prevents it from draining from the ear quickly, which could happen with liquids injected in this manner, Meyer said. That way it's injectable but still viscous enough to stay in place.

"This is only going to be the start," Meyer said. "Within the next few years, we'll see a new field emerging in otolaryngology."

- here's the release
- and here's FierceBiotech's take on the financing