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Biopharm Raises $45.9M in Venture Funding for Ear Disorders

Hearing loss (VA.gov)

(VA.gov)

Otonomy Inc., a biopharmaceutical company in San Diego specializing in middle and inner-ear disorders, collected $45.9 million in its third venture financing round. OrbiMed Advisors, a venture capital company specializing in health care investments, led the round with new investors Aperture Venture Partners and Osage University Partners taking part, along with current investors Avalon Ventures, Domain Associates, Novo Ventures, RiverVest Venture Partners, and TPG Biotech.

The company develops therapies for conditions affecting the middle and inner ear, often called otic disorders. Among the disorders with the potential to be addressed by Otonomy’s technology are Ménière’s disease affecting hearing and balance, sudden sensorineural hearing loss, noise-induced hearing loss, tinnitus — a constant roaring, humming, or ringing sound — age-related hearing impairment, and otitis media — infection or inflammation of the middle ear. The company says some 30 million Americans are affected by these conditions.

Otonomy’s technology delivers sustained-release drugs in a single injection directly into the middle and inner ear, known as an intratympanic injection. The company has two candidates in clinical trials, OTO-104, a sustained-release form of the steroid dexamethasone to treat Ménière’s disease, and OTO-201, a sustained-release version of the antibiotic ciprofloxacin designed to treat various middle ear conditions, including otitis media.

An early-stage trial of OTO-104 in patients with Ménière’s disease found the drug to be safe and well-tolerated, showing reductions in vertigo frequency and improvements in tinnitus as compared to placebo. Another early stage trial, this one testing OTO-201 in children undergoing ear tube placement surgery to equalize pressure in the ear, showed the drug reduced the risk of treatment failures.

Proceeds from the financing are expected to fund later-stage trials of these drugs, as well as support development of a third candidate to clinical stage. An intermediate stage trial of OTO-104 in patients with Meniere’s disease is being planned, but not yet enrolling patients.

Otonomy was founded by University of Southern California otolaryngologist and neuroscientist Rick Friedman, and Jeffrey Harris, chief of otolaryngology at University of California at San Diego, with financial support from the venture capital company Avalon Ventures, which led its first financing round that raised $10 million in June 2010.  A second financing round in August 2010 raised another 38.5 million.

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