Only Funded Application Among 73 Applicants
Otologic Pharmaceutics, Inc. (OPI), in alliance with The Hough Ear Institute (HEI), announces the award of a Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) grant from the Department of Defense. The grant of $1.9 million will be used to further the preclinical research and development of an innovative therapy for the loss of hearing and equilibrium caused by a demise of sensory hair cells in the inner ear. OPI and HEI received the only funded award from among 73 applications in the Hearing Research Program.
The therapy, which was initially developed by HEI, uses small molecules and interfering nucleic acids to affect the regeneration of sensory hair cells within the cochlea. Trauma, ageing, infection, and toxins are some of the factors that can contribute to a loss of sensory hair cells. A reduction in sensory hair cells has a detrimental effect on hearing and equilibrium and, once lost, hair cells do not spontaneously regenerate, creating a permanent impairment. In addition to aiding those who suffer from acute hearing and balance impairments stemming from sensory hair cell injury, this therapy has the potential to impact the tens of millions of people worldwide who live with chronic, age-related hearing loss (presbycusis), for which there are no approved treatments.
The CDMRP funds will be used to complete the preclinical trial testing and characterization of this innovative therapy.
“We are very pleased to collaborate with HEI on this grant,” said Richard Gammans, Ph.D., CEO of OPI. “These funds allow us to advance the characterization of the treatment and advance it towards human studies.”
About Hearing Loss
Hearing impairment is an exceedingly common health condition, affecting millions of people worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 360 million individuals worldwide suffer from disabling hearing loss and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that 36 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss. NIH also estimates that one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 in the United States has hearing loss, a substantial portion of which goes untreated. According to the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, the two most frequent service-connected disabilities in the military are related to hearing disorders, with 1.1 million veterans living with hearing loss. Damage – by trauma, ageing, toxins, or other factors – to sensory hair cells or to auditory nerve cells accounts for an estimated 90 percent of hearing loss. Sensory hair cells do not spontaneously regenerate, causing a permanent loss of hearing. Hearing loss costs the US up to $56 billion per year in lost productivity, retraining, and health care for the hard of hearing.
About Otologic Pharmaceutics, Inc.
OPI’s exploration of innovative therapies to treat hearing and balance disorders has led to product candidates aimed at both chronic and acute hearing loss. The loss of sensory hair cells commonly causes loss in both hearing and equilibrium. Preclinical testing in the use of small molecules and interfering nucleic acids to regenerate sensory hair cells has led to a CDMRP grant to further the research and development of this promising technology. OPI has also successfully completed a single and multi-dose Phase I clinical trial for the product NHPN-1010, a treatment for acute Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) and tinnitus. Preparations have begun for a Phase II clinical trial of NHPN-1010 in patients with hearing disorders.
About The Hough Ear Institute
HEI is a non-profit 501c3 organization dedicated to improving hearing and balance of people globally. Their mission is to restore hearing worldwide through research, education, and humanitarian efforts. Scientific research, with the aim of improving the hearing of those with acquired hearing loss, is a major thrust of the Institute’s endeavors.
“We are excited and grateful to have received this very competitive grant award,” said Richard D. Kopke, MD, FACS, CEO of Hough Ear Institute. “Our research team is thrilled to advance a treatment that restores hearing to patients.”