Drug therapy research: Can hearing loss be cured’?

Can a pill be developed to rejuvenate the damaged inner ear most people with hearing loss suffer from? Can such a pill reverse hearing loss?

Posted Tuesday September 12, 2023

Notes from the address by Professor Peter Thorne, University of Auckland, at the recent hearing symposium in Auckland.

Currently there are 188 studies around the globe focusing on therapies for the inner ear — more than ever before! Many of these studies are at various stages of their research cycle, however, some are reported to be nearing their final stage of clinical trials before submission for regulatory use in humans!

Broadly, researchers have concluded there are three likely ways of assisting:

  1. The introduction of a compound to block the damaging process, then a further compound to restore the damaged hair cells of the inner ear
  2. Gene therapy to modify the genetic pathway, preventing damage and promoting re-growth
  3. Cell therapy which utilises key cells to reduce pathology occurring in the inner ear.

However, the genetics of hearing loss, and how to deliver treatments without causing further damage, are extremely complex, so although we seem to be inching towards a pill, the clinical applications still have a long way to go to prove their safety and effectiveness.

Hence, still for some time yet your audiologist will be your best alley to help you with your hearing issues! 

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