Decibel Therapeutics is a hearing company focused on discovering and developing new medicines to protect, repair and restore hearing.

Hearing is one of the five classic Aristotelian senses. Auditory perception plays an important role in the understanding of our environment – the sound of a songbird chirping, a teacher lecturing, or a friend’s familiar laugh – and the spoken word and music are primary modes of human self-expression and communication that are impeded by hearing loss. It is estimated that 50 million people in the U.S., and 360 million people worldwide, live with hearing loss1, and it is the most common cause of sensory impairment. Currently, there are no therapeutic options available that restore hearing or effectively prevent hearing loss, and devices, such as cochlear implants and hearing aids, have limitations.

Hearing disorders affect people of all ages – folks in their twenties and thirties who have spent many years using earbuds; middle aged people living with progressive hearing loss; and the elderly, whose hearing loss often times induces an overwhelming sense of isolation. Hearing disorders can have a profound impact on quality of life and adversely affect people in a variety of ways, including learning impairment, communication difficulty, speech impairment, social isolation and dependence. Hearing loss is the third most common chronic condition in older adults after arthritis and heart disease, representing a pressing national public health issue in the U.S.2

In addition to older adults, damaged hearing can profoundly affect children.  Since hearing is critical to speech and language development, communication and learning, issues with hearing or auditory processing in children can have serious effects on their cognitive and overall development. About 1 in 500 infants is born with or develops hearing loss during early childhood.3 There are both genetic and environmental causes of childhood hearing disorders, and in many cases the cause is unknown. In addition to genetic hearing disorders, certain commonly prescribed medications used to treat children with life threatening diseases, including pediatric cancer and cystic fibrosis, are ototoxic (damaging to the ear) causing hearing loss.

Extreme noise that occurs when working at a manufacturing facility or industrial site, living in a city, playing sports in loud stadiums and attending concerts and other music festivals regularly, results in damaged hearing. Hearing loss and tinnitus represent the two most prevalent U.S. military service-connected disabilities, resulting in approximately $2 billion in annual compensation payments by the federal government.4

By combining recent innovations in hearing science with leading diagnostic tools, biological insights, and therapeutic delivery techniques, Decibel Therapeutics is pioneering a comprehensive approach to define the underlying biological causes of these hearing disorders and is developing a pipeline of breakthrough therapies targeted to specific indications and populations. Founded by the world’s preeminent experts in inner ear biology and hearing disorders, Decibel Therapeutics was launched in 2015 by Third Rock Ventures.


RESOURCES

1. Hearing Health Foundation

2. U.S. Department of Defense Hearing Center of Excellence

3. Thompson, D. C. et al. Universal newborn hearing screening: summary of evidence. JAMA 286, 2000–2010 (2001).

4. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, FY13 Compensation Report