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Age-Related Hearing Loss May Soon be Preventable

New Drug Could Make Ears “Young” Again

The first-ever medication to treat age-related hearing loss could receive FDA approval through a comprehensive study being conducted at the University of South Florida (USF).

Robert Frisina, PhD, chair of the USF Medical Engineering Department and director of the USF Global Center for Hearing and Speech Research, and his team were awarded a U.S. patent for his theory that hearing loss can be slowed by combining supplements for the hormone aldosterone with anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

Age-related hearing loss is the number-one communication disorder of the elderly, affecting more people than any other neurodegenerative disease of aging. Aldosterone is a naturally occurring steroid that influences sodium and potassium regulation in the body, including in the inner ear. Its level typically drops with age. “Our novel idea, embodied in the new patent, involves boosting aldosterone to young adult levels, to make the ear ‘young’ again," said Dr. Frisina.

In preclinical trials, aging mice received subcutaneous, time-released aldosterone treatments for four months, equivalent to seven or eight years of treatment for people. The untreated aging mice experienced a 50% decline in aldosterone compared with young adult mice. However, following treatment, the levels rose to a near-normal range.

Notably, the hormone supplement did not induce potential negative side effects, such as elevated blood pressure. Most important, unlike the control mice, the treated mice did not undergo age-related hearing loss during the study.

If Frisina and his team successfully license the patent, they will conduct four levels of human clinical trials in collaboration with the pharmaceutical company undertaking the licensing.

Source: MedicalXpress, August 12, 2019

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