Research in Hearing Protection
Oricula Therapeutics evolved from converging research into hearing loss and compounds that have potential to prevent it. Oricula’s scientists, working at the University of Washington and Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center, have studied compounds causing hearing loss in humans.
Understanding antibiotic-induced hearing loss
It has been long understood that the aminoglyoside class of antibiotics induce hearing loss by causing the death of sound-sensing mechanosensory hair cells in the inner ear; however, the exact mechanism of this toxicity is not known. The inner ear of mammals is encased in the hardest bone of the body, making it extremely difficult to directly observe and manipulate. Therefore, early work focused on the lateral line hair cells of zebrafish.
Work at the University of Washington and by colleagues worldwide has shown that zebrafish lateral line hair cells have many properties conserved with inner ear hair cells of humans and other mammals. They share common genes with mammals, and are affected by the same chemical compounds. Since the zebrafish lateral line hair cells are on the outside of the fish, they are directly accessible to visualization and manipulation.