HEI’s commercialization partner, Autigen, licensed the proprietary, injectable treatment for sensorineural hearing loss to Boehringer Ingelheim for further development.
“At HEI, we are committed to restoring natural hearing and improving the quality of life for people who acquire hearing loss or related auditory disorders,” CEO Dr. Richard Kopke said. “We are closer than ever to creating regenerative technology for restoring hearing, and our collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim could potentially accelerate the development of new therapies.”
Boehringer Ingelheim intends to take the drug through the testing process with the aim of bringing it to market. The injection is meant to treat hearing loss caused by the death of tiny hair cells in the cochlea, which currently cannot be repaired or replaced. In preclinical models, the scientific team led by Drs. Xiaoping Du, Matthew West and Richard Kopke has regenerated these sensory hair cells.
“This milestone for our research is a major win,” Kopke said. “This has been a true community effort. Our persevering researchers, generous donors, the Department of Defense, the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology, grant foundations, and stalwart investors have collectively aided us on this journey of faith. Although there is still much work to do, this agreement accelerates the technology, which will help many millions of people worldwide if successful.”
The World Health Organization warns that nearly 2.5 billion people worldwide – or 1 in 4 people – will be living with some degree of hearing loss by 2050. Age is still the greatest factor in hearing loss, yet many younger people experience reduced hearing due to exposure to loud music and dangerous levels of sound, including occupational noise.