In a day and age when it feels like there are drugs for everything—from restless legs to toenail fungus to stage fright—it's strange the drug industry has almost completely ignored one of our most important organs: our ears. Given that 15 percent of people in the U.S. report at least some level of hearing loss, you’d think drug makers would be doing more to figure out how they can help. Well, now there’s at least one company that is. Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Decibel Therapeutics went public in 2021 to help raise money to fund its research on ways to treat a specific form of deafness caused by a rare genetic mutation. Decibel is testing a gene therapy that would be administered only to cells in the inner ear and would provide patients with a correct, working copy of the otoferlin gene, which is inactive in about 10 percent of kids born with auditory neuropathy. Harry's guest this week is Decibel’s CEO Laurence Reid, who explains how the company’s research is going, and how Decibel hopes to make up for all those decades when the pharmaceutical business had basically zero help to offer for people with hearing loss.
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