Scientists develop method to repair damaged structures deep inside the ear
Researchers have developed a new approach to repair cells deep inside the ear — a potential remedy that could restore hearing for millions of elderly people and others who suffer hearing loss.
The lab study, conducted by scientists at USC and Harvard University, demonstrates a novel way for a drug to zero in on damaged nerves and cells inside the ear. It’s a potential remedy for a problem that afflicts two-thirds of people over 70 years and 17 percent of all adults in the United States.
“What’s new here is we figured out how to deliver a drug into the inner ear so it actually stays put and does what it’s supposed to do, and that’s novel,” said Charles E. McKenna, a corresponding author for the study and chemistry professor at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “Inside this part of the ear, there’s fluid constantly flowing that would sweep dissolved drugs away, but our new approach addresses that problem. This is a first for hearing loss and the ear. It’s also important because it may be adaptable for other drugs that need to be applied within the inner ear.”
The paper was published April 4 in the journal Bioconjugate Chemistry. McKenna co-authored it with David Jung of Harvard Medical School, among others. It is the latest achievement in USC’s priority program to advance biomedicine, including the recent launching of the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience. The Michelson Center unites USC experts across disciplines to solve some of the most intractable research challenges related to health at the molecular level. The facility will house the new USC Center of Excellence in Drug Discovery, with McKenna as its director.
Caveats for the hearing loss fix
There are caveats. The research was conducted on animal tissues in a petri dish. It has not yet been tested in living animals or humans. Yet the researchers are hopeful given the similarities of cells and mechanisms involved. McKenna says since the technique works in the laboratory, the findings provide “strong preliminary evidence” it could work in living creatures. They are already planning the next phase involving animals and hearing loss.
The study breaks new ground because researchers developed a novel drug-delivery method. Specifically, it targets the cochlea, a snail-like structure in the inner ear where sensitive cells convey sound to the brain. Hearing loss occurs due to aging, working with noisy machines and too many loud concerts. Over time, hair-like sensory cells and bundles of neurons that transmit their vibrations break down, as do ribbon-like synapses, which connect the cells.
The researchers designed a molecule combining 7,8-dihydroxyflavone, which mimics a protein critical for development and function of the nervous system, and bisphosphonate, a type of drug that sticks to bones. The pairing of the two delivered the breakthrough solution, the researchers said, as neurons responded to the molecule, regenerating synapses in mouse ear tissue that led to repair of the hair cells and neurons, which are essential to hearing.
“We’re not saying it’s a cure for hearing loss,” McKenna said. “It’s a proof of principle for a new approach that’s extremely promising. It’s an important step that offers a lot of hope.”
‘Hidden hearing loss’
Hearing loss is projected to increase as the U.S. population ages. Previous research has shown that hearing loss is expected to nearly double in 40 years. Damage to the inner ear can lead to “hidden hearing loss,” which is difficulty hearing whispers and soft sounds, especially in noisy places. The new research gives hope to many hoping to avoid loss of hearing and quality of life.
The Latest on: Hearing loss
via Google News
The Latest on: Hearing loss
- Why Jua Kali artisans face highest risk of hearing losson August 1, 2021 at 8:28 am
His hearing impairment is attributed to hazardous noise at Kamukunji in Nairobi, one of the biggest workstations for Jua Kali artisans in Kenya. “I joined the Jua Kali sector in ...
- Woman with hearing loss makes hearing aid accessories inspired by Filipino cultureon August 1, 2021 at 8:00 am
Ruzzelle Gasmen is selling custom-made hearing aid accessories in the form of motifs from her Filipino heritage to raise money for people who can’t afford hearing aids in B.C.
- KT Tunstall on her show-halting hearing losson August 1, 2021 at 3:47 am
After KT Tunstall postponed her touring plans over concerns she could become completely deaf, she's told the BBC about how she's struggled with hearing loss throughout her career. She spoke to Colin ...
- HEAR TO HELP One in three Brits claim to have a loved one living in denial over hearing loss, study revealson July 30, 2021 at 12:20 pm
ONE in three Brits claims to have a family member, friend or colleague living in denial over the loss of their hearing, a new study has revealed. The research, which polled 2,000 adults, found 40 ...
- Millions of Brits in denial about hearing loss despite the three tell-tale signson July 30, 2021 at 12:19 pm
A third of Brits claim to have a loved one living in denial of their hearing loss, according to a study. Research into 2,000 adults found 40 per cent think one of their parents has become hard of ...
- Third of Britons claim to have a loved one living in denial of hearing loss, study findson July 30, 2021 at 8:46 am
The research also identified the symptoms most commonly associated with hearing loss. These include a tendency to think others are mumbling, frequently asking people to repeat themselves ...
- Can headphones really cause hearing loss in kids?on July 29, 2021 at 11:06 am
Between online schooling, downtime gaming and binge watching Netflix, many kids have spent much of the past year with an added artificial appendage: headphones or buds plastered to their ears. Which ...
- KT Tunstall pulls out of summer tour dates over hearing loss fearson July 28, 2021 at 7:56 am
The singer has already lost the hearing in her left ear and wants to have adequate rests between shows to protect her right ear.
- Genetic variant linked to hearing loss in children treated with common chemotherapy drugon July 27, 2021 at 11:41 pm
Hearing loss affects half of young patients Children with solid tumours in the brain, liver and bone are usually treated with cisplatin , a highly effective chemotherapy that has been in use since ...
via Bing News