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Breakthrough towards drug for hearing loss

Research funded by hearing loss charity RNID has discovered a drug that repairs hearing after damage caused by loud noise.

Researchers at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, showed that exposure to loud noise led to hearing loss, which was permanent if left untreated. If treated with a compound called ‘ADAC’ after noise damage, hearing recovered substantially.

The scientists found that a five day treatment of daily injections through the skin starting six hours after noise exposure were most effective. Single treatments were less effective but also resulted in some hearing recovery.

The drug is thought to work by increasing the sensory hair cell’s ability to break down the damaging waste products that build up during noise exposure.

Dr Srdjan Vlajkovic, who led the study, said: ‘To our knowledge, this study presents the most effective pharmacological strategy to date for reducing noise-induced hearing loss after exposure to damaging noise. We now hope to test its effectiveness in humans and are currently seeking industry partners to move this to clinical trials.’

Currently, protecting your hearing from loud noise by using ear plugs or defenders is the most effective way of preventing noise-induced hearing loss. In some situations, such as in the military, protection is currently very difficult and a drug to treat noise-induced hearing loss could save the hearing of many people.

Dr Sohaila Rastan, the RNID's Chief Scientific Advisor, said: ‘This is a very promising discovery. At the moment, there are only very basic ways to protect your hearing and once the damage is done, it is irreparable. This research could mean that, in future, people who are exposed to loud noise and risk damage could be administered a drug to stop the hearing loss becoming permanent.’

Further reading

Vlajkovic, S.M. et al. (2010) ‘Adenosine amine congener mitigates noise-induced cochlear injury’, Purinergic Signalling

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Novel Technologies  •  Pharmacology/ Therapeutics


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