Biotech company aims to treat sudden hearing loss with early-stage drug

Chris Sopuch has taught at Oakcrest High School in New Jersey for 25 years. But in 2017, Sopuch was virtually pressured to stroll away from his life’s work on the age of 48.

“I woke up Jan. 5 to realize I could not hear properly out of my left ear,” he instructed CBS News.

Immediately, Sopuch knew one thing was flawed.

“When I first awoke that morning, the sound that I heard was robotic because I was still hearing sounds, and it was like a screeching sound,” he mentioned.

Sopuch was identified with sudden hearing loss. Doctors instructed him there was nothing they might do.

“There’s no way to fix that,” Sopuch mentioned he was instructed.

Traditional strategies like hearing aids weren’t assured to assist in his case. Steroids did not work, both. And there is not a drug on the market to restore hearing. 

“I was just trying to get by from day to day,” he mentioned. “I was not happy at all.”

Then Sopuch discovered a couple of biotech company known as Frequency Therapeutics. The company marketed a medical trial for an early-stage drug being examined to treat sudden hearing loss.

“This is for people who are born with healthy hearing, and over time, because of noise pollution — that their hearing, you know, really declines,” mentioned company founder and CEO David Lucchino.

The therapy entails giving sufferers a single shot inside their ear. Lucchino mentioned the injection, known as FX-322, can assist restore hearing by activating so-called “sleeping” cells to make up for those broken by issues like ageing, infections or loud noises.

“Five minutes in the ENT (ear, nose and throat) office and then they’ll give you a few minutes just to make sure you’re recovered and feeling good, and then you’re on your way,” Lucchino mentioned.

So Sopuch flew to San Antonio for a trial about 18 months after shedding his hearing. A month later, whereas touring for a checkup, he had a breakthrough.

“Everything just came back in life, like all of a sudden, like a light switch,” he mentioned. 

At the time, Dr. Steven Eliades was overseeing Sopuch’s care on the University of Pennsylvania. He mentioned Sopuch had “great improvement” that he attributes to the drug.

“I don’t have a better explanation for things,” Eliades mentioned. But he added, “It’s still too early to tell.”

Frequency Therapeutics says 11% of research individuals had statistically important responses to the drug over the course of 4 trials. 

But in a unique multi-dose trial final year, individuals confirmed no dependable enchancment. That led to the company’s stock plummeting. Some traders even sued.

Frequency instructed CBS News they can not touch upon the lawsuits, however says the info was unreliable due to how individuals have been screened — not due to the drug itself. The company is aiming to launch information from its newest medical trial within the first quarter of subsequent year. It is planning to get FX-322 to market within the subsequent few years, pending FDA approval of the drug.

Lucchino has a response for many who could also be skeptical: “Stand by and watch us, you know, the scientific data will tell the story.”

Spouch mentioned shedding his hearing was unimaginable, however getting it again has by no means sounded higher.

“I’m at 84%, but I’m basically back to life the way it was before,” he mentioned.

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