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Sensorion, Sonova Partner for €7M Hearing Loss Genotyping Study

NEW YORK – French biotech firm Sensorion and hearing care provider Sonova said on Wednesday that they have signed a multiyear strategic collaboration aimed at establishing genetic analysis in the routine diagnosis of progressive hearing loss in adults.

The deal follows Stäfa, Switzerland-based Sonova’s move in December 2020 to acquire a 3.7 percent stake in Sensorion. At the time, the two companies signed a letter of intent to engage in exclusive negotiations regarding new diagnostic and therapeutic solutions for hearing loss.

Under the new agreement, the firms are conducting a natural history study that will genotype thousands of patients with early onset, severe presbycusis (age-related hearing loss), recruited through Sonova’s Audiological Care stores. The goal is to identify individuals with specific mutations in genes, including GJB2, and to analyze the association of particular mutations with disease severity and progression.

Sonova and Sensorion said they are jointly funding the study with €7.0 million ($8.3 million), split 70/30 between them.

Sensorion CEO Nawal Ouzren said in a statement that the effort will help keep the company "at the cutting edge of hearing loss development by adding to our growing understanding of the ways gene therapy can help fill unmet medical needs beyond childhood and congenital deafness."

The firm's clinical-stage portfolio includes one Phase 2 product, arazasetron, for sudden sensorineural hearing loss. It is also launched three gene therapy programs, currently at the preclinical stage, aimed at correcting hereditary monogenic forms of deafness including deafness caused by a mutation of the gene encoding otoferlin, hearing loss related to gene target GJB2, as well as Usher syndrome type 1.

For its part, Sonova views the study as an opportunity to help advance new modes of screening and treatment, as well as the company's integration into more traditional hearing loss care, CEO Arnd Kaldowski added.