Could an Experimental Drug Prevent Hearing Loss? — Physician’s First Watch
Could an Experimental Drug Prevent Hearing Loss?
By Kelly Young
An experimental drug might prevent temporary, noise-induced hearing loss, suggests an industry-conducted, phase II study in the Lancet.
Over 80 participants were randomized to receive oral placebo or ebselen — a seleno-organic molecule that mimics activity of GPx1, an enzyme highly expressed in auditory hair cells — twice daily for 4 days. Two days into treatment, participants underwent a calibrated sound challenge, 4 hours of music on earphones at a level intended to cause temporary hearing loss.
Fifteen minutes post-sound challenge, the mean threshold shift at 4 kHz was higher in the placebo group — indicating greater hearing loss — than in the 400-mg ebselen group (4.07 vs. 1.32 decibels). Significant threshold shifts (i.e., 10 dB or above) occurred in 60% of placebo recipients versus 20-30% of the 200- and 600-mg ebselen recipients.
The authors note that the lack of dose-response effect could reflect the smaller-than-predicted mean threshold shift. They conclude: "Our findings suggest the potential for ebselen in the prevention and treatment of chronic noise-induced hearing loss, age-related hearing loss, and ototoxicity."