One of the central activities of the Hough Ear Institute team is to pioneer new research that targets distinct patient groups with different types of hearing loss and inner ear disorders. In doing this, we generate ideas and conduct initial proof-of-concept studies to test the validity of new technologies or approaches. If these studies are successful, they can provide evidence that our treatment strategy or medication may be clinically useful for one or more patient populations experiencing auditory dysfunction.
An emerging and very common problem is something called “hidden hearing loss.” Patients with “hidden hearing loss” have a great difficulty understanding words or speech, particularly with background noise like in a loud restaurant or with background music playing. These individuals can often have difficulty hearing or making out words on the television.
This loss of hearing clarity is called “hidden hearing loss” because the types of auditory tests performed in the clinic often do not recognize this kind of hearing loss, leading to “normal-looking” test results for hearing function.
This type of hearing loss can result from noise exposures, aging, or toxins. The toxins can damage the tiny nerve endings that transmit the signals from the inner ear hair cells to the brain. Very interestingly and surprisingly, our pill technology appears to be able to successfully regrow these lost nerve endings and restore hearing in initial animal modeling studies. As a further proof-of-concept for this, we want to determine if the pill technology can restore these important nerve connections in animals with long-standing “hidden hearing loss.” If successful, the results from these studies would be very exciting, because many people with this condition could be treated with our proprietary pill technology and possibly avoid the need for hearing aids.
A key component to staying relevant in today’s research environment is to continue to adapt our ideas and therapies to emerging issues in the sphere of hearing loss. The commitment of HEI remains to restore hearing worldwide, and this includes exploring the newest problems encountered by patients and hearing loss professionals. We believe that through continued research and support we can further improve the lives of those suffering from hearing loss and the effects thereof.