I’m a bit behind on sharing this, but just learned that in February, Frequency Therapeutics discontinued their FX-322 program, which had been the company’s flagship offering, and an exciting promise in the quest to cure hearing loss. Frequency also announced they would reduce their headcount by 55 percent, and instead shift their focus to clinical trials of a multiple sclerosis program.
This is a stark change from 4 months prior, when the company was in the midst of a phase 2b study and hoping to achieve Breakthrough Therapy designation from the FDA.
The FX-322 journey was long and cautious. Frequency started phase 1/2 clinical trials back in 2019. Over the years, they were able to show that the drug was safe, and that some participants were able to make gains in their high-frequency hearing threshold and word recognition scores.
However, as the pool of participants in clinical trials increased, FX-322 and FX-345—the next iteration of the drug that went further into the cochlea—failed to show statistically meaningful improvements, according to a press release on Feb. 13.
But according to Cliff Olson, AuD, “this [FX-322] was always going to be a long shot.” There isn’t going to be a hearing restoration drug on the market anytime soon.
For people with hearing loss, this news is incredibly disappointing. Of course, we’re used to disappointment; we live with hearing loss, after all. But it can feel even more frustrating to see the lack of progress when there are breakthroughs in treating other chronic health conditions all the time now.
The only thing I can say, based on the incredibly talented researchers I’ve been able to interview for this blog, is that the path to scientific progress is rarely a straight line. It’s a long process of experimentation. When something doesn’t work, it does help point the way to what may work in the future—but how far in the future is still a mystery.
Thanks to all the researchers at Frequency Therapeutics for their efforts over the years. They are still much appreciated.