New research model for hair cell regenerationTwo companies have joined up in the development of a pharmaceutical treatment for hearing loss and tinnitus. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ: REGN) and Decibel Therapeutics Inc, Boston, have announced a collaboration to discover and develop new potential therapeutics to protect, repair, and restore hearing.

According to the companies’ joint press release, Regeneron will provide Decibel with broad access to its proprietary suite of technologies to support Decibel’s goal of discovering important new medicines for hearing. Regeneron will also directly participate in and provide financial support for Decibel’s research and development efforts, both through R&D funding payments and a strategic equity investment in Decibel. Decibel retains worldwide development and commercialization rights to any products discovered in the collaboration and will pay Regeneron tiered royalties based on net sales. Further financial terms were not disclosed.

Decibel Therapeutics is building what it says is the world’s first, comprehensive integrated drug discovery, translational research, drug development, and delivery platform to protect, repair, and restore hearing. The company was founded in late 2015 with $52 million in Series A financing by Third Rock Ventures and SR One, the corporate venture capital arm of GlaxoSmithKline. The company’s product development is driven by the work of several notable hearing scientists, including Charles Liberman, PhD, Gabriel Corfas, PhD, Ulrich Müller, PhD, and Albert Edge, PhD. Regeneron—which markets several drug treatments for disorders ranging from colorectal cancer to high cholesterol—reportedly has established world-leading capabilities in genetics research, drug discovery, and antibody development and manufacturing, which can now be used in synergy with Decibel’s efforts in hearing loss.

“Over three decades, Regeneron has established an unparalleled suite of innovative technologies thanks to the science-focused approach championed by their longstanding leadership team,” said Decibel President and CEO Steven H. Holtzman. “As we work to apply these capabilities to the development of hearing therapeutics, what truly distinguishes this collaboration is that Regeneron and Decibel scientists will be working together, shoulder to shoulder, on project teams beginning at the earliest stages of research. We believe this should significantly reduce the time and investment necessary for Decibel to sustainably discover and develop meaningful new medications for hearing loss and tinnitus, increase our probability of success, and enable us to build the world’s leading hearing therapeutics company.”

“Regeneron is committed to following the science as broadly as possible, and we’re excited to invest in new discoveries coming not only from our labs but also from young biotechnology companies with whom we believe we can synergize,” said company President and Chief Scientific Officer George D. Yancopoulos, MD, PhD. “We see these kinds of creative collaborations as a promising way to extend the impact of our technology and medicines to even more patients in need. Decibel is an ideal example in the area of hearing problems— a condition where new and earlier interventions could truly change the course of a person’s entire life.”

“This stands out as one of the most unique collaborations that I have seen in my 30-plus years in biotech,” said Kevin Starr, co-founder and partner at Third Rock Ventures and chairman of Decibel. “The scope of the collaboration in research and discovery, as well as the retention by the younger biotechnology company to all commercial rights worldwide, are unprecedented in my experience. It positions Decibel to lead the way in developing meaningful therapeutics for hearing.”

In July of this year, Decibel Therapeutics announced an investment into the company by GV, the venture capital arm of Alphabet Inc which owns Google, YouTube, Android, and Chrome.