According to a recent report from the World Health Organization, 466 million people in the world have disabling hearing loss and 1.1 billion young people (12-35 years old) are at risk of losing their hearing due to recreational noise (WHO, 2018).
As the world’s largest, donor-funded research programme dedicated to finding treatments for hearing loss and tinnitus, the biomedical research team at Action on Hearing Loss teamed up with the University College London (UCL) Ear Institute and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to gather 159 experts in hearing loss from across the world at a summit in London, on the 22nd March. We invited experts from universities, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, investors, commissioners, clinicians and patients to talk about the biggest challenges and opportunities in hearing loss research and discuss how to speed up the development of treatments for hearing loss and tinnitus.
At the summit, the attendees heard about the latest exciting developments in research and clinical trials. Highlights included Novartis, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, sharing the progression of a gene therapy to regenerate hearing that Novartis is currently testing in people. Fennec Pharmaceuticals presented the successful results of their Phase 3 trial, the last stage of testing in people before being licensed to be used in the clinic. Fennec has shown that their therapy successfully protects the hearing of children who undergo chemotherapy treatments with drugs that damage the cells in the inner ear.
16 companies and researchers from around the world presented their work focussing on the development of different treatments to protect or regenerate hearing. The summit ended with a round table discussion between eight experts and the audience in the room about how can we all contribute to speed up the development of treatments for hearing disorders.
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If you want to have a sneak peek at the summit and hear the opinion of Dr Steven Holtzman, President & CEO of Decibel Therapeutics, a US-based company developing treatments for different forms of hearing loss; Hugh Strickland, Corporate Finance Partner at Aaron & Partners, who has hereditary hearing loss, and Dr Ralph Holme, Executive Director of Research at Action on Hearing Loss, watch the summit highlights.
A specialized report that summarizes the discussions of the day and proposes some of the changes that need to be implemented to accelerate the development of treatments can be found on the same page on the right hand side.