Hearing loss affects 15 percent of U.S. adults and over 360 million people worldwide. Hearing loss is caused by a number of factors and there are few products and prevention methods available to avoid the undesirable death of one of our five senses.
Letting the body rebuild on its own
Recently, a new drug has been developed and tested to treat hearing loss. A Massachusetts-based biomedical company, Frequency Therapeutics, is currently developing a small molecule drug that activates a particular type of stem cell within the inner ear in order to repair damaged cochlear hair cells. Cochlear hair cells communicate auditory sensory inputs, so restoring these cells can help to prevent hearing loss and even restore currently impaired or lost hearing.
Frequency Therapeutics’ drug relies on the body’s innate ability to repair itself, stimulating only the dormant stem cells in need of a wake-up. This approach is common in immunotherapy, where the body’s immune system is reactivated to do the necessary healing work.
Protecting the cochlear cells
St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital has also been working on ways to repair or proven hearing loss in the world’s 32 million children with congenital or otherwise-caused impacted hearing, especially those undergoing chemotherapy. During chemotherapy, patients are exposed to a chemotherapy agent called cisplatin, which causes an irreversible hearing loss in 70 percent of patents.
The most effective protection against cisplatin has been from compounds that inhibit cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2), an enzyme inside the ear. By inhibiting CDK2, noise- or drug-induced hearing loss might be reduced by keeping inner ear cells from dying. Of the compounds with results, kenpaullone has produced the best results and is currently on trial for further treatment development.
Hearing loss is an overlooked worldwide epidemic, but there is finally research being done to combat its pervasive threat. To learn more about hearing loss, stay up to date with our blogs on Mercedes Transcription.