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
- Juneau company makes virus protective gear to benefit the hearing-impairedon May 11, 2020 at 9:54 am
Rapid Response PPE of Juneau developed masks with clear plastic areas so people who are hard of hearing and rely on facial cues or lip reading can communicate effectively.
- Alaska firm makes virus protective gear for hearing impairedon May 11, 2020 at 6:33 am
An Alaska company is developing personal protective equipment with clear face shields to benefit people with hearing disabilities during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Man with hearing loss could not communicate with paramedics in masks – now he's making sure others don't have the same problemon May 8, 2020 at 5:09 pm
The use of protective masks worn by healthcare workers is more important than ever, however without other effective communication tools, masks can alienate the 48 million people in America who live ...
- Man with hearing loss could not communicate with paramedics in masks – now he's helping others with the same issueon May 8, 2020 at 3:16 pm
A man with hearing loss had a scary experience when face masks worn by first responders made lip reading impossible during a medical emergency. Now he's sharing a solution.
- AHA News: Hearing Loss and the Connection to Alzheimer's Disease, Dementiaon May 6, 2020 at 9:54 am
But not everyone with mild hearing loss needs a hearing aid right away, he said. "You very much may be able to get by adjusting the way you live your life. Making sure you face so ...
- Hearing loss and the connection to Alzheimer's disease, dementiaon May 6, 2020 at 9:51 am
Sound has the power to stimulate the brain, which is why hearing loss has the potential to have a profound effect on health—especially among older adults.
- Trained service dog lends an ear to Newport resident with severe hearing losson May 5, 2020 at 6:31 pm
Trained by Santa Rosa-based Canine Companions for Independence, Arrow's unique skill set is a lifeline to Lisa Westerhout, whose hearing loss began at age 8 and got progressively worse.
- Hearing loss drives UD golferon May 5, 2020 at 1:47 pm
Aashaka Desai is a senior on the UD women’s golf team, which had its season cut short by the coronavirus pandemic. A computer science major, she has worked as an undergraduate research assistant with ...
- Why working from home is a challenge for people with hearing losson May 4, 2020 at 10:10 pm
Remote working isn’t easy. Whether it’s an unreliable internet connection, feeling out of the loop with colleagues and bosses or the difficulty of keeping your work and personal lives separate, there ...
via Bing News