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Clinical trials for hearing loss prevention

Some treatments aim to stop or prevent hearing loss. They’re called otoprotective treatments.

Otoprotective treatments aim to protect hearing against different factors that damage the cells in the inner ear and/or the auditory nerve cells connecting the ear to the brain.

These factors include:

  • ageing
  • sudden sensorineural hearing loss
  • noise
  • drugs toxic to the ear (such as aminoglycoside antibiotics and the chemotherapy drug cisplatin).

Several prescribed drugs cause hearing loss or tinnitus. Cisplatin is a chemotherapy drug widely used to treat cancer, especially in children, but it causes hearing loss as a side effect. Following treatment, permanent and severe high frequency hearing loss occurs in six out of every 10 children, hampering their language and social development. 

Aminoglycoside antibiotics are a type of antibiotic used to treat life-threatening infections, especially in premature and new-born babies. They also cause hearing loss as a side effect.

According to the World Health Organization, 1.1 billion young people (12–35 years old) are at risk of losing their hearing due to recreational noise.

How otoprotective treatments could potentially benefit you in the future

Using an otoprotective treatment alongside aminoglycoside antibiotics or chemotherapy treatments as well as before or after loud noise exposure could potentially stop or prevent the sequence of events that lead to hearing loss. These treatments also have the potential to prevent age-related hearing loss.

Find out more

At the moment, the companies developing otoprotective treatments are the ones that have progressed the most. The first drug for protecting hearing from damage due to cisplatin chemotherapy (Pedmark by Fennec Pharmaceuticals) successfully completed a Phase 3 clinical trial, and is now approved for use in children being treated for cancer.

Find out more about the ongoing clinical trials for the prevention of hearing loss:

Decibel Therapeutics (drug)

  • Safety and efficacy of DB-020 for protection from cisplatin-induced hearing loss, Phase 1 clinical trial in the US and Australia

Sensorion (drug)

Sudden Hearing Loss & Cisplatin-induced hearing loss

  • Efficacy of SENS-401 for protection from cisplatin-induced hearing loss, Phase 2 clinical trial now recruiting in France

Sound Pharmaceuticals (drug)

  • Efficacy and adverse effects of SPI-1005 (Ebselen) for hearing loss and tinnitus in Meniere’s disease, Phase 3 clinical trial

This page is a non-exhaustive list of the clinical trials that are currently taking place.

Page last updated: 19 September 2023

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