Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY) has entered into an agreement to acquire a precision genetic medicine company to develop gene therapies to address hearing loss. The deal for Boston-based Akouos Inc. (Nasdaq: AKUS) is valued at approximately $487 million but could increase to $610 million if the company hits certain benchmarks during various testing phases.
Lilly says Akouos is developing a portfolio of viral gene therapies for the treatment of inner ear conditions.
The companies say the proposed acquisition, which has been approved by the boards of directors of both entities, will accelerate gene therapies that aim to restore, improve, and preserve hearing for patients living with disabling hearing loss.
“I am proud of the commitment and passion of our team, which has established Akouos as a pioneer in inner ear genetic medicine, as demonstrated by our work to advance the first investigational therapy for a genetic form of hearing loss into clinical development,” said Emmanuel Simons, co-founder and chief executive officer of Akouos. “Joining Lilly – a company that shares our purpose to make life better for people around the world – will help us accelerate the development of a broad pipeline of inner ear genetic medicines.”
Under the terms of the transaction, Lilly will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Akouos for $12.50 per share in cash, plus one contingent value right (CVR) of up to $3.00 per share. Lilly says it expects to close in the fourth quarter of 2022, subject to customary closing conditions and antitrust clearance.
Lilly says the proposed acquisition represents its second venture into gene therapy. In January2021, it acquired Prevail Therapeutics in a stock and cash deal valued at more than $1 billion.
“Gene therapy offers tremendous opportunity to provide durable treatments for patients with genetically defined disease,” said Dr. Daniel Skovronsky, Lilly’s chief scientific and medical officer. “With Akouos, we are optimistic that we can make a difference for people with hearing loss and other inner ear conditions.”