Drug Trials to Restore Hearing Loss

It’s no secret that our population is rapidly aging and many older adults may have noticed that their hearing isn’t what it once was, and they’re not alone.  Hearing loss affects nearly 48 million people in the United States alone.  

Prolonged exposure to excessive noise at work, in transit, at concerts or through high volume use of headphones plays a significant role in hearing loss, which cannot be reversed.   But there is hope on the horizon with a new drug, FX-322, currently being studied in clinical trials that shows promising results in regenerating hair cells in the inner ear which convert sound waves into nerve impulses. 

Progenitor Cell Activation or PCA Regeneration, is a new approach to repairing damaged tissue that uses small-molecule drugs to induce cells to multiply and create new cells, helping to treat hearing loss, skin disorders, gastrointestinal conditions and demyelinating diseases like Multiple Sclerosis.   The initial trials, conducted by Frequency Therapeutics, a clinical stage biotechnology company, focus on restoring hearing loss.  The first phase trial results of the injectable drug is expected to be presented early in 2019.  

In about 90 percent of hearing loss cases, noise exposure is the cause of sensorineural hearing loss.  Nearly one in three adults between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing loss which can lead to social isolation and depression if left untreated.  Studies have also shown that adults with hearing loss have a greater risk for developing dementia.  Cognitive abilities also decline faster among seniors with hearing loss.   

Although loud noise is most commonly the cause of hearing loss, earwax or fluid buildup can also lead to problems with hearing.  Talk with your doctor if you have difficulty hearing conversations or find yourself turning up the volume on the TV or asking people to repeat themselves frequently.