Potential Hearing Loss Drug Featured in “The Scientist”

April 27, 2018


At both three and nine weeks after guinea pigs’ cochleae were treated with nanoparticles loaded with Hes1 siRNA, the authors observed what are likely immature hair cells. MODIFIED FROM X. DU ET AL., MOLECULAR THERAPY, 2018

Potential Hearing Loss Drug Featured in The Scientist

  • Otologic Pharmaceutics, in collaboration with the Hough Ear Institute, has developed a new drug that could restore hearing
  • Through siRNA therapy, OPI/HEI scientists are able to regrow lost or damaged hair cells in the ear

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., April 30th 2018. On April 18th The Scientist, a magazine for life science professionals, published an article focusing on the success of The Hough Ear Institute (HEI) and Otologic Pharmaceutics Inc. (OPI) in their recent efforts to restore hearing. The preclinical study uses small interfering RNAs to initiate the regeneration of hair cells in the cochlea of noise deafened adult guinea pigs and was published in Molecular Therapy.

“The loss of hair cells in the cochlear of the ear results in deafness.  Unfortunately, because hair cells are unable to regrow, loss or damage to these cells is permanent, as is the hearing loss that it causes.” said Richard Gammans Ph.D., CEO of OPI. “Hearing aids can make sounds louder but they really only work when there are at least some remaining hair cells. With our therapy, we can actually trigger the cells in the cochlear to regenerate and grow to functional hair cells.  Dr. Gammans also added “We believe this can be done without having to undergo a complicated surgery that requires direct injection into the cochlear. Although we are in the early stages, this therapy has the potential to dramatically alter the lives of patients who have lost their hearing from a traumatic injury, excessive noise, or even ageing.”

Dr. Elaine Hamm, COO of Otologic Pharmaceutics, also stated, “Our team at HEI and OPI is committed to developing innovative therapies that will impact how people live.  Curing deafness is one such area. To be a part of such a transformative drug development program is incredibly exciting.”

OPI and HEI’s next steps with this innovative technology will focus on drug formulation and efficient drug delivery. OPI and HEI recently received an almost $2 million grant from the Department of Defense to pursue these studies.

About Otologic Pharmaceutics, Inc

OPI’s exploration of drugs for the treatment of hearing and balance disorders has led to product candidates aimed at both chronic and acute hearing loss. Located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, OPI has received local investment from i2E Inc., the Presbyterian Health Foundation, Accele BioPharma, and local Oklahoma Angel investors among others. OPI has the worldwide exclusive license to the hair cell regeneration technology as well as the license for another, later stage therapy, NHPN-1010.    OPI has also successfully completed a Phase 1 clinical trial for the product NHPN-1010, a treatment for acute Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL), tinnitus, and balance disorders, like vertigo and Meniere’s Disease.

About The Hough Ear Institute

HEI is a non-profit 501c3 organization dedicated to improving hearing and balance of people worldwide. 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.

For more information, contact Dr. Elaine Hamm, at ehamm at accelebio dot com

The Scientist:  https://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/52319/title/RNA-Injection-Restores-Hearing-in-Guinea-Pigs/

Molecular Therapy:  https://www.cell.com/molecular-therapy-family/molecular-therapy/fulltext/S1525-0016(18)30112-6