AC102: A Novel Compound for Sudden Hearing Loss
AudioCure’s lead candidate is named AC102. The primary focus of AudioCure’s development program for AC102 is Sudden Hearing Loss for which there are no approved treatments.
The actions of AC102 have been rigorously studied in a number of ear disorders. In a model of hearing loss, a single application of AC102 after the hearing loss led to a substantially improved recovery of hearing, often to nearly normal levels. The beneficial effects of AC102 have also been seen in other models including tinnitus and electrode implant trauma as shown by independent academic research groups.
How AC102 Works
Sudden Hearing Loss is characterized by damage to the delicate structures within the inner ear which are critical for the hearing process. AC102 has demonstrated its potential to tackle the damage to the sensory hair cells and their connections to the auditory nerve in models of hearing disorders. To maximize efficacy, AC102 is formulated in a specialized thermosensitive gel. It is applied locally to the middle ear maximizing efficacy at the target region while minimizing side effects. As a result, a single application of AC102 is sufficient for it to exert its beneficial effects.
AC102 Prevents Hair Cell Death and Restores Connections Between the Inner Ear and the Brain
Inner ear sensory cells (hair cells) act as sound amplifiers and transmit sound signals via the auditory nerve to the brain. Death of hair cells and the loss of their synaptic connections is the root cause for Sudden Hearing Loss leading to difficulties in the perception of sound and the understanding of conversations.
In models of hearing disorders, AC102 protects and restores hair cells and the synaptic connections to the auditory nerve (Figure 1B). Moreover, AC102 prevents loss and disorganization of the auditory nerve fibers. In this manner, AC102 maintains the communication between the ear and the brain that is essential for hearing.
AC102 Outperforms Corticosteroid Treatment in a Model of Hearing Loss
Clinical practice guidelines often recommend the use of corticosteroids to treat Sudden Hearing Loss. Corticosteroids are commonly used due to their ability to suppress inflammation. However, this approach may miss some of the processes underlying Sudden Hearing Loss. Unfortunately, the evidence that this standard-of-care leads to a clinically relevant difference to the patient is weak: x
corticosteroid treatment is one of the few treatment options that has any data showing efficacy, although even those data are somewhat equivocal.
When we compared treatment with AC102 to oral steroids in a model of hearing loss, steroids led to a minor improvement in hearing function and in the restoration of the connections between the hair cells and the nerve fibers. Meanwhile, in the same model a single AC102 treatment improved both hearing itself and the synaptic connections to close to normal levels within 3 weeks.
By working with the medical community, it is our vision to bring this therapy to patients in need and make a meaningful difference in the lives of those suffering from this condition.