Could a drug therapy reverse hearing loss?

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(BPT) - “I can hear you. I just can’t understand you.”

This is a common refrain heard from millions of Americans with the most common form of hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL).

The reason? Healthy hearing is much more than the “loudness” of sound. Today’s treatments for hearing loss, devices like hearing aids, can make sounds louder, but they often fall short in helping people to hear more clearly.

A nationwide clinical trial is underway to study whether a drug candidate may improve hearing in people with certain types of hearing loss — particularly their ability to hear sounds and speech clearly.

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL)

SNHL is the most common form of hearing loss. It results from damage to sensory cells (commonly referred to as hair cells as they look like little hairs) in the inner ear or problems with the nerve pathways that convert sound waves from the inner ear to the brain.

These sensory hair cells can be lost due to chronic noise exposure, suddenly, as a result of aging, or due to certain viral infections or exposure to drugs that are toxic to the ear.

While many assume that this type of hearing loss is just part of getting older, in fact, it is a public health problem that spans all age groups.

A nationwide clinical study

A Massachusetts-based biotech company is looking for people with sudden or noise-induced SNHL to participate in a free clinical study of a promising therapy designed to restore some hearing.

Frequency Therapeutics has been conducting clinical studies for a drug candidate, called FX-322, that it believes could help treat SNHL. Three clinical studies in which a single dose of FX-322 was administered have shown hearing improvements in measures of speech perception (hearing clarity). In addition, FX-322 was observed to be well-tolerated with no serious adverse effects.

The study is open to men and women 18 to 65 years of age with a documented medical history consistent with acquired, adult-onset, sensorineural hearing loss associated with noise induced or idiopathic sudden SNHL and have an audiogram from at least six months prior to screening. The study is not for those who were born deaf or who have a genetic form of hearing loss.

It is now enrolling subjects at nearly 30 sites across the United States. For more information on the study and site locations, visit https://www.clarahealth.com/studies/hearing-study.

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