Internal and external factors can be responsible for hearing loss. Recent studies have found that peripheral hearing loss impacts family and social interaction as well as work status (Doolittle et al., 2001) and is a significant risk factor for dementia (Livingston, et al., 2017).
With no approved drug therapies, hearing loss is also the most common sensory disorder experienced by humans, and the third-most self-reported health problem in individuals over the age of 65. Worldwide, it is estimated that approximately 500 million people (about one in 13) have disabling hearing loss, with an estimated annual economic burden of $750 billion (Lustig, 2018).
It is an exciting time for translational hearing research. The fundamental advances in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of many inner ear diseases is just now opening the door to the development of new drugs for currently untreatable conditions.
Corticosteroid-based intratympanic injections are recognized as the standard of care for a number of acute and subacute hearing loss indications, but there are still no FDA-approved treatments. Drug-loaded bioadhesive hydrogels are under development with the aim of extending the residence of drugs in the inner ear, but this approach still lacks duration and predictability.
Chronic indications like age-related hearing loss represent a huge unmet need and the largest market opportunity in the field of inner ear therapeutics. We recognize drug delivery as the biggest challenge in the development of effective therapies to address chronic inner ear indications.