Archived Webinar: Development of Inner Ear Medicines for Threshold and Supra-threshold Indications with Colleen Le Prell – Aired May 24, 2023 at 1pm ET

DATE: Wednesday, May 24, 2023 – 1 PM ET

SPEAKER: Colleen Le Prell, Emilie and Phil Schepps Professor of Hearing Science Head, Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing The University of Texas at Dallas


The phrase “hidden hearing loss” has been used to refer to 1) decreased amplitude of wave I of the auditory brainstem response (ABR) in the absence of threshold deficits; 2) loss of the synaptic connections between the inner hair cells (IHCs) and the auditory nerve dendrites (“cochlear synaptopathy”) in the absence of outer hair cell (OHC) loss; and 3) tinnitus, hyperacusis, hearing-in-noise deficits, or other suprathreshold hearing disorders that occur independent of hearing loss. The anatomical pathology and supra-threshold functional deficits have been termed “hidden” because they are not captured by the measures most commonly used during human audiometric assessment (the audiogram, and otoacoustic emission (OAE) tests) or in animal studies (ABR threshold, OAE threshold or amplitude, OHC counts). In reality, hearing-in-noise difficulties and tinnitus are common patient complaints, not-so-hidden to either the patient or the audiologist when the appropriate test battery is completed. With increasing recognition of the importance of these supra-threshold complaints has come interest in the potential for treatment using medicines that protect or repair the inner ear sensory cells.

This session will briefly review specific patterns of cell death, changes in sound evoked OAE and ABR responses, and both threshold shift and deficits “beyond the audiogram” that can be measured in clinical and research laboratory settings. The inclusion of threshold and supra-threshold tests within the current clinical trial landscape will be reviewed and considerations in the design of clinical trials will be discussed. At this time, there are no drugs approved by the FDA for “hidden hearing loss” indications, but there is an active drug development pipeline with major efforts across academic labs, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and venture capital investments.

Learning Points:

After this presentation, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe suprathreshold deficits that are commonly captured under the umbrella of hidden hearing loss
  2. Identify diagnostic test batteries relevant for documentation of suprathreshold deficits
  3. Summarize the current status of drug development for suprathreshold hearing deficits

SPEAKER BIO: Colleen Le Prell, Emilie and Phil Schepps Professor of Hearing Science Head, Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing The University of Texas at Dallas

Colleen Le Prell, Ph.D., is the Emilie and Phil Schepps Professor of Hearing Science, Chair of the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing, and Program Head for the Ph.D. Program in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas. Dr. Le Prell has received research funding from government, industry, and philanthropic sources for clinical, translational, and applied research in her laboratory. Programmatic research in her laboratory advances the understanding and prevention of noise-induced hearing loss. She is currently mentoring three AuD-PhD students and six AuD students on NIHL-related research projects and interests. Dr. Le Prell has published 79 peer-reviewed articles and 21 book chapters, and she has edited or co-edited five journal special issues and three books on topics related to her research interests.

In addition to her teaching and research responsibilities, Dr. Le Prell is highly engaged in professional service related to hearing loss prevention and scientific review. She previously served as President for the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA), is currently a member of the CDC-NIOSH National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Hearing Loss Prevention Cross Sector Council, and she is an invited participant in annual consultations of the World Health Organization – International Telecommunication Union (WHO-ITU) “Make Listening Safe” campaign. She serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America and the International Journal of Audiology and she serves on the editorial board for Hearing Research. She is a member of the Auditory System (AUD) Study Section for National Institutes of Health Center for Scientific Review.