We’re living longer, but are we living better?
Untreated hearing loss has far reaching consequences, and is not restricted to the inability to communicate with loved ones. Alarmingly, hearing loss is associated with social isolation, depression, loneliness, and cognitive decline.
The inner ear, or cochlea, often sustains significant injury before a person notices any impact on their hearing, and by then the damage is done.
Such hearing loss is the most common disability in developed countries. It has until very recently been considered permanent and irreversible. Initial results generated by Bionics Institute and its collaborators have identified a novel drug-based approach which reverses noise-induced inner ear nerve damage in animal models.
Hearing loss and link to dementia
Research suggests that people with even mild symptoms of hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia as those with healthy hearing. Those with severe hearing loss may be up to five times more likely to develop dementia.
We are creating novel approaches to cure hearing loss
Our team of researchers, led by Associate Professor Andrew Wise in collaboration with chemical engineers at the University of Melbourne and clinicians, is developing a novel technology to treat hearing loss that delivers a therapeutic agent (drug) directly to the damaged cells in the inner ear.
The technology is based on a unique method of delivery that “loads” the drug into tiny particles created through nano-engineering. This breakthrough has enabled the delivery of drugs to the hard-to-reach inner ear, at levels that are safe and effective over time.
This technology has produced very promising results in animal studies in restoring nerve function in damaged ears. The team is now focused on generating more data to support the translation of these early results into human clinical trials as quickly as possible within the next 2-3 years.
Who does it affect?
Hearing loss from noise exposure is a currently untreatable condition that affects people in many walks of life, particularly those working in:
- Live music and entertainment industries
“I used to say to my patients, forget it, not in my lifetime; you are not going to see a cure for hearing loss. Now, I’m back to dreaming again, and it’s really exciting.” Dr Sherryl Wagstaff (ENT surgeon and clinical collaborator)
A partnership between scientists, clinicians and engineers
Bionics Institute scientists have teamed up with clinicians including Dr Sherryl Wagstaff (Medical Director of Epworth Eastern Hospital) and chemical engineers led by Professor Frank Caruso (University of Melbourne) to ensure that our research leads to products that can be tested in the clinic and results in tangible outcomes for those who need it most.
We’ve accomplished so much, but our future depends on you.
All gifts will help us make a difference. Significant donations will attract naming rights to the hearing therapeutics program, fellowships, and scholarships.
To discuss our sponsorship options call or email:
Robert Klupacs, Chief Executive Officer
Ph: 03 9667 7525 or 0418 325 083