SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — Hearing implant maker, Cochlear Ltd, announced a strategic collaboration with French biotech firm, Sensorion. The collaboration will examine therapeutic approaches using Sensorion’s investigative drug, SENS-401, in combination with cochlear implants. According to the press release, the preclinical studies will be initiated in 2018, with possible clinical trials beginining as early as 2019.
Cochlear will invest €1.6 million in shares of Sensorion as part of the collaboration. In exchange, Cochlear receives the right of first negotiation for a global license to use SENS-401 in patients with certain implantable devices.
Cochlear is said to invest more than $150 million (AUD) annually in research and development and is currently involved in over 100 research collaborations worldwide.
“This innovative approach of combining SENS-401 with cochlear implants may allow for better hearing outcomes. SENS-401 has the potential to provide cochlear protection following the implantation procedure, to support long-term functional stability of the implant, and to prevent continued degeneration in some patients.”
–Lawrence Lustig, MD, Professor and Chair, Dept of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, Columbia University Medical Center
The preclinical combination studies will examin SENS-401’s therapeutic effect on hearing outcomes achieved with Cochlear’s implantable devices. In preclinical models, SENS-401 has shown in preclinical models the capacity to enhance survival and preserve functional integrity of hair cells in the inner ear.
According to Jan Janssen, the Chief Technology Officer at Cochlear, “Sensorion has a promising portfolio of therapeutic candidates and we believe that the demonstrated effects of SENS-401 may strategically complement our technology. We are excited for what our combined efforts could mean for providing even better outcomes for implant recipients.”
Cochlear Ltd: Investing in Biotech
Following the announcement of the collaboration agreement with Cochlear, Sensorion has finalized the capital increase, reserved for Cochlear, for a total of approximately €1.6 million Euros.
“The confidence that our development partner, Cochlear, has expressed via this investment in our partnership is matched by our enthusiasm in this cutting-edge collaboration at the intersection between medtech and biotechnology. We look forward to exploring the potential complementarity of our small molecule SENS-401 with Cochlear’s implantable devices.” –Nawal Ouzren, CEO of Sensorion
Sensorion said it will be using the funds to finance the preclinical combination studies that will evaluate SENS-401’s therapeutic effect on hearing outcomes achieved with Cochlear’s implantable devices. The companies believe that the investigative drug has the potential to improve hearing outcomes for patients undergoing cochlear implant surgery.