In exciting news, a new pill to combat both hearing loss and tinnitus is currently being tested on patients for the first time.
Scientists in the UK developed the drug treatment to act on brain cells involved in the processing of sound. Lab studies have previously indicated that the new drug, known as AUT00063, has the potential to reduce the effects of age-related hearing loss and tinnitus. Although there is currently no cure for either condition, researchers believe that this drug could be a promising start.
AUT00063 targets a protein called Kv3, which helps form pores on the surface of nerve cells in the area of the brain connected to hearing. These minute pores provide a way for potassium to enter the cells. This is an incredibly important function, as potassium is needed to help hearing signals pass between the nerve cells.
According to researchers, Kv3 can decline or become damaged with age, causing difficulty in understanding speech and potentially contributing to tinnitus.
Previous research at the Institute of Experimental Medicine in Prague showed that AUT00063 improves hearing in older animals, while investigations at University College London and the University of Southern Illinois found the drug has a beneficial effect on tinnitus.
Currently, 11 hospitals in the UK are embarking on a clinical trial of the drug. They have recruited around 150 patients who will receive four daily pills of AUT00063 or a placebo every day for four weeks. The trial is focusing on patients who have experienced tinnitus for between 6 – 18 months.
Meanwhile, 100 patients with age-related hearing loss are participating in a similar trial at the University of South Florida and other centres in the US. These patients will receive three capsules per day of AUT0003 or a placebo during the four-week trial.
Hopefully, this clinical trial will confirm that this new drug has the potential to reduce the effects of tinnitus and hearing loss!