UCLA researchers in the Department of Head and Neck Surgery have developed a novel therapeutic approach to treating hearing loss using inflammation-resolving molecules.
More than 350 million people worldwide exhibit some degree of hearing loss, with an associated significant socioeconomic impact that will increase with our aging global population. Despite this significant need, there are currently no therapeutic strategies that prevent or alleviate hearing loss. Growing scientific consensus has concluded that hearing loss is associated with inner ear inflammation and production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and therefore all therapies currently in clinical trials in the US are either anti-inflammatory drugs or antioxidant agents. However, inflammatory responses and ROS are part of the body’s natural defense mechanisms and interfering with them may result in negative side effects.
Professor Kalinec and coworkers have developed a novel approach toward treatment and prevention of hearing loss by resolving inflammation using exosomes. Exosomes are cell-derived vesicles that contain pro-resolving mediators such as proteins and lipids, and have been shown to resolve inflammation by modulating both innate and adaptive immune responses. Instead of fighting inflammation or oxidation symptoms associated with hearing loss, treatment with auditory or stem cell-derived exosomes activates normal hearing protection mechanisms. The cell-free therapy is non-immunogenic and the procedure is minimally invasive.
Stem cells, exosomes, hearing loss, inflammation mediators