2016  International Business Times Australian edition

A clinical trial on human subjects to reverse hearing loss will soon be conducted by Audion Therapeutics, a Dutch company, after a successful trial on mice. The 2013 study regrew hair cells in the rodent’s cochlea. The reversal is dependent on a notch inhibitor found in some animals such as birds and fish which allows the regrowth of inactive sensory hair cells after loss of hearing. Unfortunately, humans and mammals do not have the notch inhibitor which is why hearing loss becomes permanent. For the human trial, Audion would use compounds developed by pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and with Frequency Therapeutics which would develop the treatment – using a tube or piece of foam in the middle ear to stimulate regrowth of hair cells damaged by sound. To fund the human trial, Audion raised €2.5 million (A$3.69 million) Series B investment from INKEF Capital, a venture capital firm based in The Netherlands. Audion was also awarded another €5.8 million (A$8.5 million) grant through the Horizon 2020 program. The combined funds would allow Audion to lead the clinical Proof of Concept of a treatment which targets sensorineural hearing loss. Reversal of hearing loss would benefit not only the elderly but the 900 million people expected to suffer from age-related hearing loss by 2050.