Gunshots, concerts, loud video games, even loud cityscapes may all be responsible for hearing loss. How can we reverse the negative effects of these things that we may or may not enjoy significantly? Until now, when humans have sustained damage, we have just had to live with it.
Frequency Therapeutics has been working to develop a non-invasive treatment to help regenerate hearing ability instead of simply amplifying incoming signals or masking the issue with implants.
When exposed to loud noises for extended periods, hairs in the inner ear lay down, making them less effective at their function, moving as air pressure changes in the surrounding air to assist with sound signal reception. By activating progenitor cells, Frequency Therapeutics is hoping to repair this, previously lasting damage.
How common is noise induced hearing loss?
Millions are affected by noise induced hearing loss, a recent CDC report stated that approximately 25% of patients in the U.S. alone suffer from noise induced hearing loss. So far, Frequency Therapeutics has acquired over 30-million dollars through their initial funding round to help reduce the number of afflicted patients.
According to the Frequency Therapeutics website, it is estimated that nearly 1-billion individuals worldwide suffer from hearing loss. Not only is Frequency Therapeutics tapping into a massive market, they are working to resolve a recurring pain point in the world market.
How does the treatment work?
Frequency Therapeutics has devised a method of treatment for noise-induced hearing loss that uses progenitor cells, a more advanced form of growth for stem cells. progenitor cells have grown into more directed applications than stem cells which can be used for many different purposes.
The injection which Frequency Therapeutics has developed activates the use of these progenitor cells to regrow and reprogram inner ear hair cells which detect fluctuations in air pressure and help turn them into sound signals in the brain.
By using “small molecule” drugs to stimulate the activation of progenitor cells, Frequency Therapeutics is generating natural restoration without the need for invasive surgeries, implanted devices, or hearing aids.
What does this treatment mean for the average citizen?
This treatment may allow patients to experience hearing as though they were young again. According to the above CDC report, even adults with decent or excellent hearing, many individuals have signs of noise induced hearing loss.
Progenitor cell replication is limited, stem cells can, however be used in conjunction with other cell types be used to create more progenitor cells, as highlighted in this study published to Cell Magazine.
Will we soon be able to visit as many concerts or expose ourselves to as much loud noise as we would like? Potentially, Frequency Therapeutics claims to be able to produce unlimited quantities of progenitor cells in vitro.
By addressing an issue which holds nearly 1-billion individuals afflicted, Frequency Therapeutics is helping bring research into other areas of progenitor cell treatment into mainstream discussion with hearing loss treatment being only the first.