In a new study, researchers reported the first-ever medication to treat age-related hearing loss could potentially receive FDA approval.
The research was conducted at the University of South Florida.
The team was awarded a U.S. patent for their theory that people can slow hearing loss by combining supplements for the hormone aldosterone with anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
According to the researchers, aldosterone is a naturally-occurring steroid that influences sodium and potassium regulation in the body, including the inner ear used for hearing.
Its level typically decreases as we age, impacting auditory perception.
In the study, the team’s novel idea was that boosting aldosterone in older people to young adult levels, making the ear “young” again.
The research is part of a five-year, $9 million grant awarded from the National Institutes of Health to USF’s Global Center.
Since its renewal launch in 2016, the study has included pre-clinical trials on mice.
The aging mice received subcutaneous, time-release aldosterone treatments for 4 months, equivalent to about 7-8 years of treatment for people.
The team found untreated aging mice experienced a 50 percent decline in aldosterone compared to young adult mice.
However, following treatment, the levels rose to a near-normal range.
It’s important to note that the hormone supplement did not induce potential negative side effects, such as elevated blood pressure.
Most importantly, the treated mice did not undergo age-related hearing loss during the study, whereas the control mice did suffer from continued age-linked hearing impairment.
The team now is licensing the patent. If successful, they will then conduct four levels of FDA human clinical trials.
Once the drug is FDA-approved, it would then be available to the public.
The researchers believe that this drug could be life-changing for many people, as age-related hearing loss is the number one communication disorder of the elderly population.
The lead author of the study is Robert Frisina, Ph.D., chair of the USF Medical Engineering Department.
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