Autifony Therapeutics Company Profile

16:42 EST 10th December 2018 | BioPortfolio

Autifony Therapeutics Limited is a UK-based company formed in 2011 as a spin-out from GlaxoSmithKline by Charles Large and Giuseppe Alvaro, previously Directors in GSK's Neuroscience Centre of Excellence for Drug Discovery.

The company is privately funded by leading venture capital investors. Autifony’s head office is at the Imperial College Incubator in London, and it has a subsidiary with medicinal chemistry and biology labs based in Verona, Italy. The company 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.

Autifony Science

Autifony’s approach to hearing loss is to target particular ion channels, known as Kv3 voltage gated potassium channels, which play a key role at many levels of the central auditory pathway. Studies conducted by Prof Len Kaczmarek’s group at Yale University suggest that Autifony’s Kv3 modulators may help to restore the timing of firing of neurons in the auditory brainstem important for central auditory processing.

For Age Related Hearing Loss

In age-related hearing loss, there is evidence for an age-related decline in expression of Kv3 channels. The reduction of these channels and the corresponding loss of function of certain auditory neurons may contribute to the reduction in hearing acuity and difficulty that patients experience in understanding speech. Autifony’s drug is designed to modulate Kv3 channels, improve hearing acuity, and thus reduce some of the symptoms of age-related hearing loss, in particular difficulty with speech understanding. Studies in preclinical models conducted by Autifony’s academic collaborators at the Institute of Experimental Medicine in Prague (led by Prof Josef Syka) show that Autifony’s drugs can improve key aspects of hearing acuity in aged animals.

For Tinnitus

Several hypotheses exist to explain how alterations in central auditory processing might lead to the emergence of phantom sounds.  Experimental studies have confirmed that tinnitus is associated with changes in neural activity at multiple levels of the auditory pathway, including many brain areas in which Kv3 channels are found. Profiling of our lead compound shows it can modulate function in both brainstem and cortex in ways that could be beneficial in the treatment of tinnitus. Our research with academic collaborators at UCL’s Ear Institute (led by Dr Jennifer Linden) and at the University of Southern Illinois (led by Dr Jeremy Turner) shows that Autifony’s drugs can reduce both the behavioural and electrophysiological correlates of tinnitus in preclinical models.

For Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Acute or chronic noise can damage the cochlea, initiating a series of adaptive as well as maladaptive changes within central auditory pathways that contribute to the perceived hearing loss and sometimes the emergence of tinnitus. In collaborative studies with the University of Leicester (led by Dr Martine Hamann) we have shown that one of the changes in the central nervous system following noise is the reduced function of Kv3 channels in the auditory brainstem (Pilati et al. 2012, Hearing Research 283:98-106). Further studies in preclinical models with the University of Southern Illinois (led by Prof Kathy Campbell) suggest that Autifony’s drugs can protect against hearing loss induced by loud noise.



Imperial College Incubator
Level 1 Bessemer Building, Imperial College
United Kingdom



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