Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Decibel Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotechnology company dedicated to discovering and developing transformative treatments to restore and improve hearing and balance, have announced a definitive agreement for the acquisition of Decibel by Regeneron at a price of $4.00 per share of Decibel common stock payable in cash at closing, with an additional non-tradeable contingent value right (CVR) to receive up to $3.50 per share in cash upon achievement of certain clinical development and regulatory milestones for Decibel’s lead investigational candidate, DB-OTO, within specified time periods.
The proposed acquisition values Decibel at a total equity value of approximately $109 million based on the amount payable at closing, and a total equity value of up to approximately $213 million if the CVR milestones are achieved.
“We at Decibel are deeply committed to discovering and advancing innovative new therapies with the potential to be transformative for people with severe forms of hearing loss. We have built a pipeline of gene therapy product candidates for the ear that we believe have such potential. After full consideration, the Decibel Board has determined that this transaction is the best way to maximize shareholder value and ultimately benefit patients,” said Laurence E. Reid, Ph.D., president and Chief Executive Officer of Decibel.
“We have collaborated with our colleagues at Regeneron for the past six years and have huge respect for their research and development capabilities. We have full confidence that with Regeneron’s expertise and resources the Decibel pipeline can be optimally developed, and our team is committed to enabling that long-term success.”
Decibel and Regeneron established their initial collaboration in 2017, with an extension announced in 2021, and are developing three gene therapy programs targeting different forms of congenital, monogenic hearing loss. DB-OTO, which is currently in the global Phase 1/2 CHORDTM clinical trial, is an investigational cell-selective, adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapy designed to provide durable, physiological hearing to individuals with profound, congenital hearing loss caused by mutations of the otoferlin gene. Preclinical programs include AAV.103 for people with GJB2-related hearing loss and AAV.104 for people with stereocilin (STRC)-related hearing loss.
“We are delighted to announce the planned acquisition of Decibel, who have been long-standing collaborators, notable for their deep scientific knowledge and commitment to people with hearing loss,” said George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., Board co-chair, chief scientific officer and president of Regeneron.
“DB-OTO, our shared lead investigational gene therapy, will soon reach patients in its first clinical trial, offering new promise to children with this rare form of congenital hearing loss, as well as potential proof-of-concept for future gene therapies addressing more common forms of genetic hearing loss. We believe that Decibel’s assets and specialized team will further strengthen our genetic medicines portfolio, enabling Regeneron to accelerate the development of innovative genetic therapies and a rich pipeline of hearing loss treatments.”
Congenital hearing loss is a significant unmet medical need with no approved medical therapies that affects approximately 1.7 out of every 1,000 children born in the United States. While hearing loss caused by mutations of the otoferlin gene is rare, the majority of permanent, congenital hearing loss cases diagnosed in developed countries are sensorineural and result from a single gene defect, making them appealing targets for gene therapy. Hearing aids and cochlear implants may offer benefits, but they fall short of replicating normal hearing function.