Hearing loss and balance disorders are coupled both biologically and in their widespread impact. At Decibel, we are leveraging our multifaceted discovery platform to develop therapeutics that improve the lives of people with hearing and balance issues.
Hearing loss is one of the largest areas of unmet need in medicine and affects approximately 466 million people worldwide, including 48 million people in the United States.
In the U.S. alone, more than 30 million people have hearing loss in both ears, and 20 million experience tinnitus.
Hearing loss and tinnitus can be traced to myriad causes, including noise damage, genetics, ototoxicity from medications like cisplatin, and the normal aging process.
In people of all ages, regardless of cause, hearing loss and tinnitus can lead to chronic depression, social isolation, anxiety and sleep problems, as well as lost productivity.
Age-related hearing loss is a modifiable risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia.
There are currently no approved therapeutics for the treatment of hearing loss. Hearing aids and cochlear implants may offer benefits, but they fall short of replicating normal hearing function.
Approximately 8 million adults in the U.S. report chronic balance problems.
Loss of hair cells in the vestibular system is part of the aging process, and this loss is linked to impaired gait and increased risk of falls. These events often kick off a cascade of downstream problems, including impaired mobility, secondary falls, depression, and functional dependency.
People with bilateral vestibulopathy (BVP) – which is often caused by life-saving antibiotics such as gentamicin – may experience more dramatic loss of hair cells than elderly people. They may also suffer from far more significant symptoms, including a 31-fold increased risk of falling and a 70% incidence of oscillopsia (blurred vision occurring during head movement such as walking). Many affected are unable to drive and have difficulty with the activities of daily living.
There are currently no approved medications to restore balance.