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      Charity invests £300000 into new international project to develop drugs for hearing loss

      25 April 2017

      Charity Action on Hearing Loss announces major investment to fund a new project to develop medicines to treat age-related hearing loss and noise-induced hearing loss

      The annoucment was made at BioTrinity 2016 – Europe’s Leading Investment and Biopartnering Conference.

      Hearing loss affects over 11 million people in the UK and due to an ageing population, this number is expected to rise to over 15.6 million by 2035, meaning one-fifth of us will be affected. Hearing loss can result in feelings of isolation, depression and social withdrawal, but despite this pressing need there are no medicines approved to prevent or treat hearing loss.

      The three-year, £300,000 project brings together an international team comprising the French-based biotech Pragma Therapeutics with Professor Robert Frisina’s team at the Global Center for Hearing and Speech Research from the University of South Florida, Tampa.

      The pioneering research aims to develop and test innovative small molecule drugs that act at the mGlu7 receptor which is involved in the transfer of signals between the sensory cells of the ear and auditory nerves that carry speech information to the brain, in response to sound. Previous genetic studies in people have demonstrated that the gene encoding the mGlu7 receptor is associated with susceptibility to age-related hearing loss, suggesting that normalising the function of mGlu7 with a medicine could help prevent or treat hearing loss.

      Sylvain Celanire, PhD, Chief Executive officer of Pragma Therapeutics said: ‘We are very proud to receive the support of Action on Hearing Loss, to advance our mGlu7 receptor modulator program towards proof-of-concept. This Translational Research Initiative for Hearing award strongly validates the relevance of our innovative approach to developing novel treatments for sensorineural hearing loss, and in particular noise-induced hearing loss and presbycusis.’

      Professor Robert Frisina, Director of the Global Center for Hearing and Speech Research from the University of South Florida said: ‘Millions of people worldwide suffer from age-related or noise-induced hearing loss, yet we cannot obtain over-the-counter, or prescription medications to prevent or treat hearing loss. Through the generous support of Action on Hearing Loss, our international collaboration with Pragma can facilitate breakthrough progress in this field.’

      Dr Ralph Holme, Head of Biomedical Research at charity Action on Hearing Loss, said: ‘There is an urgent need for effective treatments to prevent and treat hearing loss - a condition that affects as many as one in six people in the UK and all too often isolates people from friends and family. In bringing together the drug discovery expertise of Pragma Therapeutics and the hearing research expertise of the Global Center for Hearing and Speech Research, our new project aims to bring the development of urgently needed treatments a step closer for people who choose to want them.’

      Action on Hearing Loss runs the world’s largest donor-supported hearing research programme, dedicated to funding research into better treatments and cures for hearing loss and tinnitus.

      ENDS

      Contact for media enquiries:

      Gorki Duhra, Senior PR Officer, telephone: 020 7296 8057, out of hours: 07944 038 635 or email: gorki.duhra@hearingloss.org.uk. Follow Action on Hearing Loss on Twitter @hearinglosspr

      Notes to Editors

      • Action on Hearing Loss helps people to confront deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss to live the life they choose. Action on Hearing Loss enables them to take control of their lives and remove the barriers in their way. Action on Hearing Loss gives people support and care, develop technology and treatments, and campaign for equality.
      • Action on Hearing Loss spokespeople and case studies are available for interview upon request.
      • Hearing loss research is woefully underfunded, compared to the scale of the issue, which affects one in six people in the UK. In 2014, hearing loss research received less than a tenth of the funding per person affected (£1.11 per person) compared to sight loss (£11.35 per person affected) and a fraction of funding for research into other conditions such as diabetes, and heart disease.
      • Hearing loss, if undiagnosed or mismanaged, can lead to social and family isolation, depression, and dementia and reduce employment opportunities. Investment in research has the potential to not only improve the quality of life for millions of people across the UK, but save the economy millions of pounds.
      • A significant body of evidence showing that hearing loss is a serious condition that can have an adverse impact on a person’s health and quality of life, with the World Health Organisation saying that by 2030 hearing loss will be in the top 10 diseases burdens in the UK, above cataracts and diabetes.
      • The Global Center for Hearing & Speech Research is an internationally recognised centre for research and development advancing our understanding of the characteristics and biological causes of hearing loss and deafness; providing novel bases for new drug, technological and behavioural interventions and treatments www.gchsr.usf.edu
      • PRAGMA Therapeutics is a French pharmaceutical company discovering and developing innovative medicines acting at a unique biological target for the treatment of patients suffering from severe debilitating CNS disorders such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and hearing loss. PRAGMA aims at preventing and treating both civilian and military populations with an unprecedented mechanism-of-action supported by strong scientific rational and genetic evidences. For more information, please go to www.pragmatherapeutics.com (external link, opens in new window)