Invitae and Decibel Therapeutics on Friday announced the launch of Amplify, a program that provides free genetic screening for congenital hearing loss in children who meet certain criteria.
Through the program qualifying children will have free access to Invitae’s Comprehensive Deafness Panel, which assesses multiple genes linked to syndromic and non-syndromic deafness. Children younger than five years old, who have no or highly abnormal auditory brain response in both ears, and a certain level of distortion production otoacoustic emissions in one year qualify for free testing through the program.
Decibel, a company developing treatments for the hearing impaired, is advancing the gene therapy DB-OTO for congenital, monogenic hearing loss, which is caused by abnormalities in the otoferlin gene. When changes in this gene cause insufficient production of the otoferlin protein, it hinders communication between auditory nerves and the brain, causing hearing loss. DB-OTO, which Decibel developed with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, is designed to control gene expression in cochlear hair cells. The drug is slated to enter clinical trials next year.