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Hearing Loss: Invisible Handicap on The Rise

Globally, over one billion young adults are at risk of developing hearing loss due to unsafe noise exposure.  By 2050, an estimated 2.5 billion individuals are projected to grapple with varying degrees of hearing impairment, with a staggering 700 million people in dire need of hearing rehabilitation. The impact extends far beyond a mere disability, wreaking havoc on mental health, education, and employment prospects. Startlingly, those with mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia compared to those with normal hearing, compounding the urgency of the issue. Alarming statistics echo through the United States as well, with 36 million Americans currently enduring the burden of hearing loss, accounting for a significant 17% of the adult population. Shockingly, despite the magnitude of this problem, no approved treatment for hearing loss exists on the market. The consequences encompass not only medical and societal costs but also a staggering loss of productivity, with estimated costs soaring to $122 billion annually. The unattended menace of untreated hearing loss spiked into an increasingly critical public health crisis, demanding immediate attention and action.

Hair Cell Loss: Main Cause of Hearing Loss

Hearing depends on a series of complex steps that changes sound waves into electrical signals. Sound waves travel the outer ear and pass through the ear canal which leads to the eardrum vibration. The eardrum sends vibrations to the ossicles where they are modulated and sent to the cochlea. Hair cells take the relay to transduce sound-mediated mechanical vibration into electrical signals that will reach the brain.  There are only 17,000 hair cells in a human cochlea. These cells have no regenerative capacity and are damaged by loud noise or exposure to ototoxic agents.  

Foot Tracks on Sand

Our Approach

Based on our groundbreaking research on genetic and noise-induced animal models of hearing loss, we identified the mechanism that leads to noise-induced hair cell death. We discovered that homeostatic modulation of the unfolded protein response (UPR) in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) of cochlear hair cells is essential to prevent over-activation of the UPR and subsequent hair cell death and hearing loss.  

Jacaranda developed new proprietary small molecules that modulate overwhelming cellular stress response and restore homeostasis 

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