News & Events

Imperial Innovations: Autifony Initiates Phase I Trial for Treatment of Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

Imperial Innovations: Autifony Initiates Phase I Trial for Treatment of Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

London, UK − 4 June 2013 − Imperial Innovations Group plc (AIM: IVO, ‘Innovations’, or ‘the Group’) a leading technology commercialisation and investment company, announces that its portfolio company, Autifony Therapeutics has initiated a Phase I clinical study of AUT00063, its lead product for the treatment of hearing disorders.

The study, being conducted in the UK, will investigate the safety and optimal dosing regimens of AUT00063 in around 60 young and elderly volunteers, and is expected to complete in Q1 2014.

Autifony has recently received £5 million in investment funding from Pfizer Venture Investments, the venture capital arm of Pfizer Inc.  The International Biotechnology Trust PLC (IBT) has also invested, bringing the total funds raised in this recent funding round to £15.75 million. Existing investors include SV Life Sciences, UCL Business plc (UCLB) and Imperial Innovations, which has invested a total of £5 million in Autifony.

Despite the fact that 50% of those aged over 60 suffer from age-related hearing loss and 10% of the population suffer from some form of tinnitus, there is currently no effective treatment for either condition.
AUT00063 is a novel pharmaceutical treatment that targets auditory processing in the brain. Deficits in these central mechanisms are believed to contribute to hearing difficulties in the elderly as well as the emergence of tinnitus.

Susan Searle, CEO of Imperial Innovations said:

“Autifony spun out of GSK in 2011 and through its network of collaborators, including the UCL Ear Institute, is pioneering a highly promising approach to tackling hearing disorders, an area of significant and growing unmet medical need.

“It is great to see Autifony making real progress and attracting additional capital from such strong investors as Pfizer Venture Investments and the International Biotechnology Trust"

Dr Charles Large, Autifony’s CSO said:

“Hearing loss and tinnitus affect the lives of a vast proportion of the population, yet there are no effective treatments available.  Our product has the potential to change that. 

“We welcome the financial commitment from Pfizer and IBT, in addition to SV Life Sciences, Imperial Innovations, and UCLB, which will allow us to explore the exciting potential of this treatment.”


Notes to editors

Imperial Innovations -

Innovations creates, builds and invests in pioneering university technologies addressing global problems in healthcare, energy, engineering and the environment.  It combines deep understanding of science and technology with commercial acumen and strong investment expertise.

Innovations supports scientist-entrepreneurs in the commercialisation of their ideas by:

• leading the formation of new companies and providing facilities in the early stages
• providing significant investment and encouraging co-investment to accelerate the transition from R&D to products
• providing operational expertise
• helping to recruit high-calibre industry figures and experienced entrepreneurs as executive management and Board members

Innovations invests in companies based on technologies from or associated with four universities: Imperial College London; and Cambridge University, Oxford University, and UCL supported by its collaborations with Cambridge Enterprise, OSEM and UCL Business.  These are the UK’s leading research intensive universities, measured by research income.

By raising £140 million in January 2011, Innovations has been able to accelerate the making of, and increase the size of its investments.  In the year to 31 July 2012, Innovations invested £37.9 million (2011: £35.1 million) in 29 ventures, and made 11 investments in new companies.

In its current portfolio of 78 companies, Innovations’ most advanced assets include Circassia, which develops innovative treatments for a wide range of allergies; and Nexeon, a battery materials and licensing company which develops silicon anodes which extend the life and increase the capacity of lithium-ion batteries. 

Autifony -

Autifony Therapeutics is an independent UK based biotechnology company formed in 2011 as a spin-out from GSK, which retains equity in the company. The Company is focused on the development of high value, novel medicines to treat hearing disorders.  It is funded by SV Life Sciences, Imperial Innovations plc, Pfizer Venture Investments, International Biotechnology Trust PLC and UCL Business plc. Autifony works closely with hearing research experts at University College London’s Ear Institute, Yale University and other academic collaborators around the world to progress its pioneering research.


Issued for and on behalf of Imperial Innovations.

To contact the Imperial Innovations team at College Hill, email

back to news


Melanie Toyne-SewellManaging Partner

Tim WatsonPartner