Hearing impairment affects roughly 10 % of the world population, causing a decrease in overall quality of life. An EU-funded project, PROHEARING, has explored how vitamins A, C and E (antioxidants) in combination with the vasodilator Mg++, collectively called ACEMg, may be used to prevent or treat hearing loss. The main objective of this project was to gather clinical and lab data to support the efficacy of ACEMg through testing on cochlear implant patients and animal models. Preclinical results in experimental animals strongly supported that oral ACEMg consumption provides a protective effect against noise-induced hearing loss with improvements in auditory thresholds (brainstem auditory evoked potentials) of around 15 %. There was also very significant protection against a combination of age-related hearing loss and noise. In experimental animals, the safety margin seems wide, although effective dosages are relatively narrow. An interesting collateral finding is that irradiation of the compound (supplied as animal chow) results in lack of otoprotection activity. This raises cautions about its preparation and use in the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries. These preclinical results have generated scientific publications and intellectual property, which will be used for exploitation and commercialisation purposes. Papers have been published in J Comp Neurol and Neuroscience Research. Two patents have been filed in the United States. One patent protects a method to treat noise-induced hearing loss and the second protects a method to treat age-related hearing loss. An extensive clinical trial recruited 51 patients and tested protection of residual hearing in cochlear implant users. Only interim results are available so far and these will be analysed and reported. Due to lack of available funding, the trial was stopped. Project results have the potential to impact the field by providing new information on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of hearing loss and how that can be mediated by nutrients. If successful, developments from this study will enhance the lives of those with hearing loss and provide a preventive tool for those at risk.
Hearing impairment, micronutrient combination, PROHEARING, ACEMg, cochlear implant