Sound Pharmaceuticals (SPI) has announced that they have received FDA approval to start clinical trials for a new treatment for Meniere’s disease, a form of vertigo that affects almost 600,000 people in the United States. If approved, it would be the only medication for sensorineural disease.

Meniere’s disease and vertigo

Meniere’s disease causes vertigo: a sensation that the environment is moving while you are stationary. Episodes can be brief or last for hours. Commonly, people with Meniere’s report a feeling of exhaustion after the episode.

It is thought Meniere’s is caused by a fluid (endolymph) collecting in the ear. People with Meniere’s often report a feeling of fullness in the ear in addition to the vertigo. Hearing loss and tinnitus may also be present with Meniere’s disease. Estimates for the number of people with Meniere’s disease vary, but the National Institutes of Health puts the number at 615,000 people in the U.S. 

Meniere’s can strike at any age, but it is more common in older adults. Symptoms can come on suddenly and then disappear. Several attacks may occur close together and then long periods of time elapse before another attack.

While Meniere’s can be very stressful, it is not caused by stress. Treatment is sometimes difficult, which adds to the patient’s stress.

Revolutionary vertigo treatment

SPI-1005 is an experimental drug that has shown promise in preventing and treating hearing loss that involves the hair cells and neurons.  "Based on the anti-inflammatory activity of SPI-1005, we hope that it will be of benefit in Meniere's disease," said Jonathan Kil, MD, CEO of SPI. SPI is a Seattle-based biopharmaceutical company that is currently privately held. 

The drug being investigated is an oral medication that mimics Glutathione Peroxidase activity.  This activity is reduced in Meniere’s disease and after ototoxic damage to the ear.

Currently the FDA has not approved any medication for treatment of Meniere’s disease. Most medications used for Meniere’s disease control symptoms or underlying conditions.

See your ENT for vertigo relief

If you’re plagued by Meniere’s disease or other vertigo symptoms, contact your local ENT clinic to find out what they can do to help you. Most ENTs offer different treatment options to help you find relief from this condition.