On 2 September, we proudly hosted the 2023 Hearing Therapeutics Summit, in collaboration with University College London’s Ear Institute, and the UCLH National Institute of Health Research at University College London Hospital.
In recent years, several potential treatments for hearing loss and tinnitus have entered clinical trials and resulted in both successes to celebrate and challenges to learn from. The summit was a timely opportunity for the international hearing research community to come together, reflect on the latest research, share learnings and discuss how to overcome the remaining challenges in developing treatments.
What happened at the summit
We believe that the key to successful future treatments for hearing loss and tinnitus is better collaboration. In that light, the theme of this year’s summit was “connecting academia and industry”, with a goal of building the bridges to help research move from discoveries in the lab to new treatments available to people.
Over 120 people from the international hearing research community attended the summit. This included hearing researchers, clinical scientists, biotech, pharma and hearing device companies, research funders and investors, who all took the opportunity to learn and connect.
“Many thanks for all your excellent organisation and preparation. I was really fascinated to hear all the talks and to understand what progress had been made – and where it is dealing with still the same challenges. I enjoyed the overview of RNID activities, too – as you heard, we are the envy of many other countries, thanks to RNID’s hard work!”2023 Hearing Therapeutics Summit delegate
On the day, we heard from:
- Fennec Pharmaceuticals, the biotech company who developed the very first (!) approved treatment for preventing hearing loss. Jeremy DiCandilo shared his team’s experience of bringing this treatment to the clinic with the community. This encouraging story was received with a lot of interest as it benefits the whole sector by helping pave the way for other types of treatment in the future. Read more about the work of Fennec Pharmaceuticals.
- Professor Karen Steel from King’s College London, who talked about her and her team’s work to identify the many different biological changes that can lead to hearing loss. Using beautifully colourful microscopy images of the inner ear, Karen’s key message to the audience was that, because it has so many different causes, hearing loss is not a “one size fits all” condition – it will require a range of different treatments and careful diagnosis. Read more about the work of Professor Karen Steel.
- Professor Dave Raible, co-founder of Oricula Therapeutics, who told us about how he and his team took a scientific discovery they made in zebrafish from the lab into the creation of a biotech company. They identified a new drug that works to protect hearing from being damaged by antibiotics, which is now being tested in clinical trials. Read more about the work of Oricula Therapeutics.
- Prof Marcelo Rivolta and Dr Simon Chandler candidly shared the “behind the scenes” story of Rinri Therapeutics, a start-up they spun out from a hearing research lab at the University of Sheffield. Their cell therapy for hearing loss builds on research initially funded by RNID and is being developed with the hope of starting clinical trials by 2025. Read more about the work of Rinri Therapeutics.
- Hugh Strickland, who talked honestly and powerfully about his and his family’s experience of hearing loss, and what he hopes for in a future treatment. Read more about Hugh’s story.
Throughout the day, we were hugely grateful for our two amazing Speech To Text Reporters (STTRs): their excellent work captioning highly technical content from the speakers’ presentations and discussion ensured our event was accessible to our attendees who were deaf or had hearing loss.
Beyond the summit, the RNID Hearing Therapeutics Initiative creates partnerships across the global hearing research ecosystem to speed up the development of treatments for hearing loss and tinnitus.
If you are a hearing researcher, clinician, biomedical research funder or investor, or work in a biotech, pharma or hearing device company, join our network and opt in to the Hearing Therapeutics Initiative newsletter! Every other month, you’ll receive a curated update with the latest results from treatments currently in clinical trials, relevant industry news from biotech companies, scientific event announcements and research funding opportunities.
Help to fund hearing research
Did you know that only 83p is spent per person affected by hearing loss on ‘ear’ research in the UK? This compares to £16 per person affected by sight loss. Please help fund this vastly unfunded area.