Hearing Loss

Hearing loss affects hundreds of millions people worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates that 500 million people worldwide have a mild to moderate to severe or greater hearing loss. While the prevalence of moderate hearing loss (above 40dB) in the Western population over 70 years old exceeds 27%, the incidence is rising rapidly among younger people as well.
The impact of hearing loss is multifaceted and includes loss of productivity, social, health and economic consequences. Hearing loss significantly increases the risk of dementia and depression. Even moderate hearing loss increases the likelihood of developing dementia three-fold (Livingston et al., Lancet 2020).
Restoring hearing would produce a major effect on multiple aspects of people’s lives and contribute to preventing the development of hard to treat conditions such as depression and dementia.
Currently, the options available to people with hearing loss are limited to hearing aids and cochlear implants. These have a limited effect on the intrinsic ability to hear, and most people with hearing loss still have difficulty understanding speech in noise. Audion’s lead program AUD1001 aims to change that, and provides a pharmacological treatment that can potentially address the needs of a large number of people suffering from acquired sensorineural hearing loss.

Image: Scanning electron micrographs of the normal (a) and damaged (b) cochlear sensory epithelium. In the normal cochlea, the stereo cilia of a single row of inner hair cells (IHCs) and three rows of outer hair cells (OHCs) are present in an orderly array. In the damaged cochlea, hair cells are missing, and stereo cilia are abnormal, leading to hearing loss.

Micrographs are courtesy of Elizabeth M. Keithley. Retired Professor Emeritus of Surgery Auditory Research.