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Friday, October 13, 2017

​The startup SonicCloud (https://soniccloud.com/) has launched an iOS app that allows those with moderate to severe hearing loss hear phone calls clearly by calibrating every mobile phone call for their unique hearing needs. The SonicCloud App users will be able to determine custom levels for their right and left ears by taking a quick hearing assessment on the app. Each user gets his or her own personal Hearing Fingerprint, which is driven by an algorithm in the cloud that adjusts to an individual's hearing needs. Incoming and outgoing calls are then processed through SonicCloud's "mixing board in the cloud," which optimizes voices and noisy environments. The SonicCloud App is the company's first step towards making hearing technology truly accessible to hearing-impaired individuals. SonicCloud was featured in Apple's 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference. 

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Spiral Therapeutics (http://www.spiraltx.com/), a pre-clinical stage company developing first-in-class therapies targeting inner ear disorders, has received positive feedback from the U.S. Drug and Food Administration (FDA) regarding its first Pre-Investigational New Drug (Pre-IND) package submission.  The FDA answered Spiral's product development questions related to manufacturing and non-clinical testing, and concurred with the company's clinical development plans for its LPT99 program for preventing chemotherapy-induced hearing loss in pediatric patients. Pre-IND is a program through which the FDA's Office of Antimicrobial Products could provide advice on drug development before it begins. Spiral plans to raise additional funds for an initial Phase 1 trial, the development of new preclinical data, and the company's operations for the next 18 months.​


Friday, September 29, 2017

​The medical device startup iotaMotion (http://iotamotion.com/) has been awarded a $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop its next-generation implantable robotic technology IOTA-Progress. The company will use this funding from the NIH's Small Business Innovation Research program to hone a robotic-assisted cochlear implant insertion system that will provide precise and controlled electrode advancement during hybrid cochlear implant surgeries. Marlan Hansen, MD, one of the founders of iotaMotion, said providing a more controlled, fine electrode insertion of the electrode should significantly enhance professionals' ability to preserve hearing. "Then we have what this grant is helping to fund for our company, which is the development of an implantable system allowing for electrode adjustments within the cochlea after the original surgery, without surgical intervention," Hansen said. "The goal here is optimal positioning within the cochlea to best match that patient's hearing, which often changes over time."


Friday, September 22, 2017

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Researchers in Europe found that barn owls have what they call "ageless ears," which could potentially help with identifying new treatment options for hearing-impaired humans (Proc Biol Sci 2017;284[1863] pii: 20171584). They measured the auditory sensitivity of seven barn owls ranging from less than 2 years old to 23 years old by training them to fly to a perch to receive a food reward in response to an auditory cue. Young and old owls both responded to the varying levels of auditory cues, and the oldest owl at 23 years old heard just as well as the younger owls. ​Georg Klump, a professor at the University of Oldenburg, Germany and one of the study authors, told BBC that owls keep their hearing into very old age. "Birds can repair their ears like (humans) can repair a wound," he said. "Humans cannot re-grow the sensory cells of the ears but birds can do this." Work is underway to investigate the differences between birds and mammals, which commonly lose their hearing at old age. ​

​Photo credit: ​Lubos Houska


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

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Hearing health took center stage at the high-level United Nations General Assembly panel on "Ear Care and Hearing Health"​ last September 14, with keynote speaker former U.S. President Bill Clinton. 

Organized by the International Federation for Peace and Sustainable Development (IFPSD) and the Permanent Mission of Guatemala to the U.N., the meeting highlighted the global impact of hearing impairment, as well as the importance of hearing health in promoting peace and sustainability, especially in developing nations.

"It is important to know that children in developing countries are seven times more likely to experience hearing loss because of avoidable conditions that routine checkup and treatment can take care of in countries with comprehensive health care system," said Clinton.

William F. Austin, the founder of the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which has worked with the Clinton Global Initiative on hearing health projects, was the other keynote speaker and named the first Goodwill Global Ambassador for Ear and Hearing.

In the first panel, the keynote speakers and fellow panelist tackled the need for increased support and funding ear and hearing health.

Hearing "helps us understand each other and creates more avenues for peace and development," said Sandra Granger, first lady of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, who was also part of the panel. "It is not only hearing as a sense but also the connection with the rest of the world that we all need and desire."

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"If you think about it, this is a problem of manageable cause with a proven delivery system that has a community-based solution to promote hearing health and to maintain the supply chain," Clinton said.

"If we get enough people trained then we can feed that system with instruments needed to satisfy the broader problem," Austin noted on developing solutions.

The second panel, which focused on the global status of ear and hearing health, was moderated by Barbara Bush, CEO and co-founder of the Global Health Corps.

"We can work as hard as we want to every single day on solving health issues, but if someone can't access the health care system because they can't hear, that's not a 'nice' to have--that's a 'must' to have," shared Bush.

In this panel, Charlotte Chiong, MD of the University of the Philippines recapped the recently approved World Health Assembly resolution that underscored the need to integrate ear and hearing health within primary health care. The resolution also called for improved training of medical professionals, informed government policies, implementation of hearing screenings, and enhanced access to cost-effective hearing services and devices.

"Everybody should think of hearing as a right to life," said Chiong. "Nobody gets left behind."