A cell therapy to improve hearing could transform the lives of millions of people with hearing loss, new research suggests.
The therapy will see the first clinical trial of a stem cell treatment for hearing loss, building on research that resulted in 40% improved hearing in preclinical tests.
Sheffield-based biotech company Rinri Therapeutics hopes to start clinical trials in the next two years in people with severe-to-profound age-related hearing loss.
Rinri’s work was founded on pioneering research into regenerative cell therapy, led by Professor Marcelo Rivolta at the University of Sheffield.
Rinri’s cell therapy, Rincell-1, is for patients with auditory neuropathy, a form of hearing loss which occurs when sounds become disrupted as they travel to the brain. Patients with auditory neuropathy are thought to make up a quarter of the sensorineural hearing loss community.
Patients will receive Rincell-1, which regenerates auditory neurons and re-establishes the transmission of nerve signals from the inner ear to the auditory centres of the brain to reverse hearing loss.
If the clinical trials are successful, the treatment could be available as a treatment for people with hearing loss within the next five to 10 years.
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