GlaxoSmithKline spin-off group Autifony Therapeutics has kicked off a Phase I trial of its experimental drug designed to tackle hearing disorders, with financial backing from Pfizer's venture capital arm, among others.

The UK biotech, which was emerged from GSK back in 2011, will assess safety and dosing of AUT00063 in the treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus in around 60 people.

There is a significant unmet need in this area as, despite 50% of people aged over 60 suffering from age-related hearing loss and 10% of the population suffering from tinnitus, there are currently no effective treatments on the market for these conditions.

AUT00063 is a novel agent that targets auditory processing in the brain, deficiencies with which are believed to play a key role in hearing difficulties in the elderly as well as the development of tinnitus.

The trial, which is being carried out in the UK, is expected to complete by the first quarter of next year.

Autifony recently bagged a £5 million investment from Pfizer Venture Investments as well as funding from the International Biotechnology Trust, to join existing investors SV Life Sciences, Imperial Innovations plc and UCL Business plc in the Series A financing round, bringing the total raised to date to £15.75 million.