The Next Logical Step: Rescue Hearing Inc.


In January 2015, I read a New York Times article by Andrew Pollack entitled “Ear Ailments are New Focus for Drugs from Vertigo to Tinnitus”.  Since that day in January of 2015, I have personally interviewed over 25 experts in the hearing loss field (Key Opinion Leaders), profiled over 21 companies involved in developing hearing loss therapies, established relationships with hearing loss foundations, attended my first scientific conference ARO (Association for Research in Otolaryngology) and created this blog on Linked-In called “Dispatches from the Hearing Loss Space”.

As a result of my many interviews, meetings, conferences, scientific articles read and the support I have received from the scientific community (especially Dr. Larry Lustig), I move to the next logical step. Create a company dedicated to developing therapies for those with hearing loss.  That company is “Rescue Hearing Inc.”.

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Profiles in Courage: Jennifer Lentz PhD, Michelle Hastings PhD and Antisense Oligonucleotide Therapy

Profiles in Courage

I’m not sure who coined the phrase “to the pioneers go the arrows” but I’ve found this to be true across most worthy endeavors from civil rights activism to the business of science.  In the business of science, the arrows come in many forms: lack of research funding, peer and investor skepticism and the inevitable dead end(s) when an experiment’s hypothesis fails.  To march on takes courage.

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“Build-to-Buy”: A Novel Funding Mechanism to Advance Hearing Loss Science and Commercialization

The “Build-to-Buy” Framework  

Three parties are used: (a) a science company with a novel technology, (b) a venture capital firm and (c) a big pharma company.

All parties must agree on a pre-set acquisition price for (a).  This is the hardest part.  (c) retains an exclusive option to purchase (a) at the pre-set price when a specific milestone is achieved e.g. a first lead compound reaching the filing stage of an investigational new drug (IND) application.  Both (b) and (c) contribute funding, drug development expertise and resources to develop (a’s) novel technology.

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Genvec: A Cutting Edge Company


Somebody’s got to be the first, the pioneer, the risk taker.  Two publicly traded companies, Genvec (NASDAQ:GNVC) and its big pharma partner, Novartis (NYSE:NVS) have taken on this moniker.  Genvec is a pioneer in the design, testing and manufacture of viral vectors (adenoviral-based products) and Novartis is a big pharma company with the money ($248B market cap) and courage to move a gene therapy product into first-in-man clinical trials.  GenVec’s lead product candidate, CGF166, is licensed to Novartis and is currently in a Phase 1/2 clinical study for the treatment of hearing loss and balance disorders.

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Profiles in Courage – Lawrence Lustig M. D. Chair at Columbia University Medical Center

Profiles in Courage?

It may be presumptuous to borrow the title “Profiles in Courage” from the 1957 Pulitzer Prize winning  book to describe the scientists who are pursuing therapies to restore hearing loss, but I feel it’s appropriate.  The more I research, the more I appreciate the difficulty of creating therapies in the lab and then moving them into the “clinic”.

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Organizing the Hearing Loss Therapy Space

My interest in the hearing loss space was sparked after reading a January 2015 New York Times article by Andrew Pollack entitled “Ear Ailments are New Focus for Drugs from Vertigo to Tinnitus

After reading the article, I had my “eureka” moment.  The hearing loss space provided me with a personal connection to the science.  My 10 year old son was born with congenital hearing loss and finding a cure for him is what drives me.

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