latest health care news

20.11.19

Sudden hearing loss drug in development

UCLH researchers are developing a new drug for sudden-onset sensorineural hearing lost (SSNHL), an emergency condition where there is a rapid loss in inner ear, hearing usually in one ear.

The SENS-401 drug which is being tested by biopharma company SENSORION was found to be safe after being tested in a small group of volunteers, and researchers from AUDIBLE-S trail will now test whether it works improving hearing in a larger group of participants.

Participants in the trial will take the drug in tablet form twice daily for one month, and will be evaluated over approximately three months.

Previous research suggests it may even be able to restore the function of the inner ear hearing cells.

The current treatment for sudden loss of hearing, which affects every year around 13,000 in the UK, followed by steroid injections into the ear if hearing does not improve. But not all patients respond to this treatment.

Sudden hearing loss occurs most often in the 5th or 6th decade of life. Individuals at risk of cardiovascular disease may be at higher risk, though the cause of SSNHL is unknown in many cases, despite investigation. The condition may be temporary or permanent, up to an estimated 60% of patients have full or some recovery of their hearing.

Dr Azhar Shaida, of the UCLH Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital and Principal Investigator of AUDIBLE -S said: “The current treatment approach does not work in many cases, so there is a need for new, effective alternative treatments.”

Dr Shaida said the condition affects patients in a number of ways: “sudden hearing loss makes it more difficult to identify the direction a sound is coming from – particularly when it is noisy – so it affects social interactions, and also increases risk in traffic.

“Because SSNHL occurs suddenly, it also causes stress and anxiety, as patients worry, they will lose hearing in the other ear – though this is very rare.”

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