Development of Therapeutic Drugs to Prevent Hearing Loss


To develop drugs to protect hearing when particular antibiotics are used

Anticipated Impact: 

Reduced hearing loss during antibiotic therapy, promoting increased use of an otherwise underutilized antibiotic


This grant will support development and testing of a novel class of drugs that promises to protect the hearing of patients taking an antibiotic that is underutilized because of its negative impact on hearing. Three candidate drugs will be produced in sufficient quantity and tested for efficacy and toxicology in an animal model. Those same animal models could be a platform for discovering other drugs that protect hearing in other situations (e.g., from chemotherapeutic drugs or excessive noise). A start-up company, Oricula Therapeutics, has been formed to commercialize the drugs.

To increase the likelihood of commercialization and to take advantage of an assembled scientific team, a supplement of $55,990 was made in 2014 for two additional in vivo experiments. The lead candidate drug will be evaluated for its ability to protect against:

  • antibiotic-induced kidney toxicity, a leading adverse effect, and
  • more profound hearing damage, caused by a longer exposure to antibiotic. 

Collaborating organizations: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Oricula Therapeutics, EsseBioScience,  NuPharmAdvise LLC

Hearing Loss Prevention

Grant Update

Principal Investigator:
Edwin Rubel
Grantee Organization:
University of Washington
Grant Title:
Development of Therapeutic Drugs to Prevent Hearing Loss
Grant Cohort and Year:
2013 Proof of Concept (03)
Grant Period:
10/01/2013 - 09/30/2015 (Completed)
Grant Amount:
Previously we identified a lead compound showing the potential to protect against hearing loss resulting from treatment with the aminoglycoside antibiotic, amikacin. During this funding period we tested this compound for its ability to protect against hearing loss caused by longer exposure to amikacin. With longer exposure times, even though the amount of hearing loss caused by amikacin was increased, we found that co-treatment with our compound protected against this hearing loss. Kidney toxicity studies also demonstrated that our compound lends some protection against amikacin induced kidney damage.

Impact in Washington

Location of LSDF Grantee
Locations of Collaborations/Areas of Impact

Legislative Districts:
11, 34, 36, 37, 43, 46

Health Impacts

Hearing Loss Prevention