Hearing-loss drugmaker Sound Pharmaceuticals posts strong clinical results, eyes a $100M IPO

Sound Pharmaceuticals CEO Dr. Jonathan Kil. (Sound Photo)

Sound Pharmaceuticals, a Seattle-based drugmaker that is creating a first-of-its-kind treatment for hearing loss, recently reported encouraging top-line results from a Phase II clinical trial and is eyeing a potential IPO next year.

Sound has developed a synthetic drug containing ebselen that mimics a natural enzyme called GPx, which contributes to healthy hearing. The company is pursuing trials for two separate applications of the drug, including Meniere’s disease and noise-induced hearing loss.

In a recent trial, some patients were able to double their word-recognition scores, Sound Pharmaceuticals CEO Dr. Jonathan Kil said. “This is something that would be hard for a hearing aid to accomplish,” he said.

The results indicate that Sound’s drug may significantly improve hearing in people with Meniere’s disease, a chronic inner ear disease that causes vertigo, ringing in the ears and hearing loss. Musician Huey Lewis stopped touring because of Meniere’s disease.

Sound has raised $37 million to date from investors including Seattle-based hotel and property developer Richard Hedreen as well as Isilon Systems co-founder Sujal Patel. The company’s strategic advisors include Chad Robins, CEO of Adaptive Biotechnologies, and Dr. James Roberts, the former director of the basic sciences division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, among others.

The startup is headquartered in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood and has 15 employees.

While he’s excited about the promising developments, Kil acknowledged that it was “very difficult” to get to this point.

“We had some hiccups in 2017 and 2018 but we are stronger for it now,” he said. “I think our best days are ahead of us.” Kil said that an initial public offering could come as early as next year and that the company would aim to raise $100 million.

If Sound is successful, their drug would be a major first. Despite the fact that 50 million Americans experience hearing loss or tinnitus, the FDA has yet to approve a drug to treat inner ear diseases or disorders.

The company aims to enroll patients with Meniere’s disease in a pivotal Phase 3 study at the end of the year. Sound also wants to see if its drug, a kind of anti-inflammatory, can work in diseases beyond the ear, such as bipolar disorder.

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