The University of South Florida issued a press release in August 2019 touting the success of one of their own, Robert Frisina, PhD, director of the USF Global Center for Hearing and Speech Research and chair of the USF Medical Engineering Department. Dr. Frisina, along with his team, were awarded a U.S. patent for a new intervention for hearing loss that combines the hormone aldosterone with anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen and supplements. Read more. 

Highlighting the benefits of their work, Dr. Frisina and his team are celebrating their contribution to improve hearing in those with age-related hearing impairment. “You can buy pills that reduce pain, help the stomach and help you sleep but there are no drugs or medications to improve hearing,” said Dr. Frisina in a recent USF press release.  

Dr. Frisina’s research was funded through a grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health.  The $9 million award was used to study mice, which were administered SC aldosterone injections for 4 months, a time they estimated to roughly equate to 7 to 8 years of treatment for humans. The study found that treated mice retained a “near normal range” aldosterone level and, when compared with control mice, did not experience age-related hearing loss. Untreated aging mice, however, suffered a 50% decline in aldosterone when compared with young adult mice. The team also noted that in addition, the treated mice did not experience negative side effects with the aldosterone supplementation. 

Categorized as a mineralocorticoid, aldosterone is a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland and is well known for its role in regulating electrolytes and water balance. Collaborating with the pharmaceutical company, Dr. Frisina’s team is planning a human clinical trial after receiving the green light by the FDA. 

Recognizing the need for research in this area, the AARP recently reported an interview with  Anne G. M. Schilder, a professor and director of the translational hearing research program of the National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre at University College London Hospital in the UK, said, “For the first time, we’re looking at normal therapeutics that can either restore, regenerate or protect people’s hearing,” said Professor Schilder. “There have been real breakthroughs in our understanding of the underlying mechanisms that lead to inner ear loss.” She predicts that as the field continues its rapid development, we will “see a range of new drugs within the next several years.”

The availability of a new therapeutic intervention for age-related hearing loss would be significant, as it has been reported that age-related hearing loss is one of the most impactful communication challenges among older individuals.

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