U.S. Department of Defense Awards $2M Grant to Frequency Therapeutics

Research Award will support translational preclinical and early-stage clinical research to address hearing dysfunction resulting from military service-related injuries

WOBURN, Mass. & FARMINGTON, Conn.--()--Frequency Therapeutics today announced the receipt of a U.S. Department of Defense Hearing and Balance Research Award grant. The $2 million peer-reviewed grant will be used to investigate Frequency’s Progenitor Cell Activation, or PCA Regeneration approach to restore hearing that has been lost as a result of military service-related injuries.

Building on Frequency’s work in hearing restoration, this award will fund research to increase soldier’s effectiveness, reduce veteran’s disabilities and increase retention of experienced soldiers, who would otherwise be forced to retire.

Addressing hearing loss for our soldiers is of paramount importance:

  • For active duty soldiers, it is estimated that over 50% of battlefield situational awareness comes from hearing, through environmental monitoring or from communications with other soldiers.
  • Combat experience, where peak noise levels can reach 180 dB, has been associated with a 63% increased risk for hearing loss according to a study of almost 50,000 soldiers.1

Frequency’s PCA Regeneration platform targets the root cause of disease through the local delivery of small molecules to induce the regeneration of hair cells and neuronal connections targeting hearing regeneration.

“The DOD’s Hearing and Balance Research Award provides meaningful, peer-reviewed validation as we move toward Phase 2 clinical trials in hearing restoration later this year,” said David Lucchino, President, Co-founder and CEO of Frequency. “With this award, we have the potential to help thousands of men and women in uniform.”

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy added, “This $2 million award from the Department of Defense is a testament to the groundbreaking biomedical work being done at Frequency Therapeutics.” Senator Murphy continued that, “Connecticut’s biotech sector is booming, and I’ll do everything I can to bring home even more federal funding to help them grow.” Frequency Therapeutics has a substantial presence in Farmington, CT since the company’s inception in 2015.

Hearing is a vital asset during tactical and survival training, as well as combat situations, and exposure to loud noises during training and missions are inevitable. Military service can entail harmful exposure to high-intensity noise from firearms, explosives, jet engines, machinery, and other sources during combat operations, training, or during general job duties. As a result, hearing loss is the most common service-connected disability according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).2 Once hearing loss occurs, there are few recourses available to alleviate symptoms, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants, but no therapeutics currently exist to treat the underlying biology causing the impairment.

“Progenitor Cell Activation has the potential to have a profound impact on hearing loss as well as a multitude of other disease indications,” said Will McLean, Ph.D., Co-founder and VP, Biology and Regenerative Medicine of Frequency who helps lead the company’s labs in Farmington, the hub of Frequency’s biological research and discovery operations. “This research award will support Frequency’s continued effort to advance novel therapeutics to address noise-induced hearing loss and improve the quality of life for our service members, veterans, their caregivers and family members, and ultimately the American public.”

Dr. McLean is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Connecticut (UConn) School of Medicine and will run the research program with the DOD. Located within the University of Connecticut’s Technology Innovation Program (TIP), Frequency’s Farmington-based discovery labs utilize UConn's world-class research resources, facilities and business support services to continue expanding its PCA Regeneration pipeline.

Frequency’s Progenitor Cell Activation, or PCA Regeneration, platform targets the root cause of disease without removing stem cells from the body. This approach avoids the generational and systemic issues that arise with traditional cell or gene therapy. PCA uses proprietary small molecules to awaken dormant progenitor cells already in the body to restore healthy tissue. PCA Regeneration transiently causes innate progenitor cells to divide and differentiate to initiate repair in a way similar to naturally regenerating tissues such as the skin and intestine. Frequency’s elegant approach, which reduces the complexity of regenerative medicine, has the potential to yield a whole new category of disease-modifying therapeutics for a wide range of degenerative conditions including hearing loss, demyelination diseases, skin disorders and gastrointestinal conditions.

Frequency Therapeutics develops small molecule drugs to stimulate cells in the body to reverse biological deficits and restore healthy tissue. Through the transitory activation of these cells, Frequency enables disease modification without the complexity of genetic engineering. Our breakthrough therapy uses a proprietary combination of small-molecule drugs that induce progenitor cells to multiply and create new cells. Our platform technology is founded on discoveries in progenitor cell biology by the labs of Bob Langer, Sc.D. at MIT and Jeff Karp, Ph.D., at Harvard Medical School and Brigham & Women's Hospital. Frequency has operations in Woburn, MA and Farmington, CT. www.frequencytx.com.

1 Wells TS, Seelig AD, Ryan MA, Jones JM, Hooper TI, Jacobson IG, and Boyko EJ. Hearing Loss Associated with US military combat deployment. Noise Health 2015 Jan-Feb; 17 (74):34-42. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4918647/#ref11
2 US Government Accountability Office. Hearing loss prevention: improvements to DOD hearing conservation programs could lead to better outcomes. Washington, DC: US Government Accountability Office; 2011. Available at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11114.pdf


MacDougall Biomedical Communications
Stefanie Tuck or Kari Watson, +1 781-235-3060

Release Summary

U.S. DOD Awards $2M Grant to Frequency Therapeutics to investigate PCA Regeneration approach to restore hearing due to military service related injury


MacDougall Biomedical Communications
Stefanie Tuck or Kari Watson, +1 781-235-3060