Novel therapeutics to enhance and preserve natural hearing in SNHL
Hearing loss is a pervasive affliction that has far-reaching negative effects on our ability to communicate and connect. Right now, 1.5 billion around the globe are affected. According to WHO, this figure will rise to 2.5 billion by 2050. The causes are manifold. Nevertheless, another 1.1 billion young people are often unknowingly at risk of permanent hearing loss from prolonged exposure to loud music.1
- World report on hearing. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2021.
- Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report by the Lancet Commission. Livingston G, Jonathan Huntley J, Sommerlad A, Ames D, Ballard C, Banerjee S et al. Published: July 30, 2020. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30367-6
Sensorineural hearing loss
Over 90 percent of all hearing impairment is sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL).
Anatomy and physiology of hearing: For healthy people, sound is directed from the pinna into the auditory canal where the tympanic membrane begins to vibrate. The auditory ossicles in the middle ear amplify the movement pressing on the fluid in the cochlea of the inner ear like a piston. This impulse is registered by several rows of sensory cells (outer and inner hair cells) in the organ of corti and is transmitted as a nerve impulse toward the auditory center of the brain by the spiral ganglion neurons.
90 percent of all hearing impairments are caused by damage or dysfunction to sensory cells leading to sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). Middle and outer ear problems result in so-called conductive hearing loss (10 percent). At Acousia we develop novel therapeutics for patients with SNHL.
Contributors, early indicators, and forms of SNHL
There are several contributors to SNHL, including continued exposure to loud noise, disease, certain medications, or simply age. One of the first indicators of SNHL is referred to as the cocktail-party-effect because it becomes more difficult to comprehend our conversation partners when there is background noise. SNHL accounts for over 90 percent of all hearing loss. However, its causes can be subdivided into different categories:
Developmental approaches to SNHL treatment
Many patients currently turn to high-end hearing instruments and cochlear implants when diagnosed with a hearing impairment. However, due to technical limitations, they are unable to restore natural hearing. There are three principal different therapeutic approaches under development:
Unique dual mode of action to enhance and preserve a patient’s natural hearing
Acousia develops small molecule drugs, which are designed to affect validated targets expressed in the cochlea. Our unique dual mode of action approach aims to both enhance and preserve a patient’s natural hearing. Our therapy offers sustained and long-lasting hearing improvement by modulating the activity of outer sensory hair cells and protecting both the cells and synapses.
The different structures and physico-chemical properties of our small molecule drug candidates, as well as their modes of administration, are specifically designed to target permanent and progressive sensorineural hearing loss.
Our small molecule drug approach will allow stand-alone first line treatment of patients with SNHL but will also complement traditional cochlear implants and high-end hearing devices. For more information, read about our ongoing programs and what we have in our pipeline.