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Audion, Sanofi to Partner on Hearing Loss Therapies

Hearing loss (VA.gov)

(VA.gov)

The French pharmaceutical company Sanofi and biotechnology company Audion Therapeutics in Amsterdam have agreed to develop potential treatments for hearing loss through through regenerative medicine and biologics. The collaboration will build on technology developed by Audion’s co-founder Albert Edge at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston.

Audion originally licensed Edge’s technology from Mass Eye and Ear, a teaching partner of Harvard Medical School. Under the agreement, Sanofi has an option to license technology rights from Audion related to the research conducted as part of collaboration.

Edge’s research at Mass Eye and Ear’s Eaton-Peabody Laboratory deals with stem cells and inner ear biology.  Audion’s approach to hearing loss therapies, based on that research, focuses on the regeneration of sensory hair cells in the inner ear, which are lost in a large percentage of hearing impairment cases.

World Health Organization estimates as of 2005, some 278 million people had moderate to profound hearing impairment, 80 percent of whom live in low-and middle-income countries. Sensorineural hearing impairment is a problem with the inner ear or the hearing nerve. The condition is commonly a result of excessive noise, aging, and infectious diseases such as meningitis, measles rubella, and mumps.

Sensorineural hearing impairment is usually permanent and has traditionally required rehabilitation through the use of a hearing aid. WHO says the current production of hearing aids meets less than 10 percent of global needs.

Read more: Sanofi-aventis, Harvard to Collaborate on Biomedical Research

Note: new image posted, 16 June 2011

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