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Use of sulfonylureas for the treatment of age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) offered by INNOVECTIS

Organization name

INNOVECTIS Gesellschaft für Innovations-Dienstleistungen mbH



Presbycusis is the most common type of age-related sensori-neural hearing loss, which leads to a degeneration and finally to an irreversible loss of hair cells in the inner ear. About 70-80% of humans older than 65 years suffer from presbycusis, which mainly can be characterized by hearing loss at high frequencies.
ABR-threshold (dB SPL) Frankfurt scientists now have found an opportunity for the treatment of presbycusis, which is based on the inhibition of ATP-sensitive potassium channels using sulfonylureas.


Up to now, the mechanism leading to the development of age-related hearing loss is not known well. Possible reasons might be e.g. ischemia, oxidative stress, but also mutations in the mitochondrial DNA.

Remedies for the therapy of presbycusis do not exist so far, so that it is only possible to treat symptomatically with hearing aids or cochlea implants.

Sulfonylureas, like they are proposed for the therapy of presbycusis are already known from the treatment of moderately diabetes mellitus type II.


The present invention relates to the use of sulfonylureas (for example glibenclamide) for the inhibition of ATP-sensitive potassium channels containing Kir6.1, Kir6.2, SUR1 or SUR2a/b subunits.

Tests on mice models show a delayed progression of age-related hearing loss due to a treatment with sulfonylureas. Moreover, a reduced extent of presbycusis over the entire frequency range can be observed.

Thus, pallets were implanted into mice, releasing Glibenclamid in a concentration of 27,8 mg per day. Like shown in the figure, the auditory threshold of treated mice at 22,6 kHz for example, was 15 dB below the threshold of non-treated mice.

The inhibitors may be present in various forms (for example tablets, ear drops, gel) and can be administered in different ways (for example orally, subcutaneously, by injection). Primarily, a local application is advantageous. There the sulfonylureas can be placed near the oval window of the middle ear by pricking a needle electrode in the patients eardrum.


The inventive use of sulfonylureas, such as for example glibenclamide serves to the prevention and delayed progression of age-related sensori-neural hearing loss (presbycusis).

Customer Benefits

  • The invention currently offers the only opportunity for a prevention and therapy of presbycusis.
  • A local application of the agent in the middle ear is possible and thus a high efficiency of the sulfonylureas at minor side effects.
  • Sulfonylureas already have been characterized in clinical studies for different indications.

Project Status

A priority patent application has been filed for Great Britain.

Owner of the patent is Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main.

Licensing or assignment of the technology is possible as well as a cooperation for further development of the invention.

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