New Study Developed Could Potentially Restore Hearing Loss

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Scientists have developed a new method to make the cells inside the ear. This could repair the hearing loss all over the world and make it a better treatment than what it is now. Scientists 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.

A study, published in the journal Bioconjugate Chemistry, demonstrated a novel way for a drug to zero in on damaged nerves and cells inside the ear. The research was conducted on animal tissues in a petri dish. The drug targets the cochlea, a snail-like structure in the inner ear where sensitive cells convey sound to the brain, according to the researchers from University of Southern California in the US.

Director of the Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience said think of how sound travels on a string between two tin cups. Neurons are the string or part of the synaptic wiring that creates hearing, but this system gets permanently damaged through wear and tear. “They’re losing their ability to transmit the sound signal to the brain,” said USC Chemist Charles McKenna. He said a new drug can target these damaged cells and promote regeneration.

These are known compounds,” he said. “But the problem has been, ‘How do you deliver them and anchor them to the inner ear?'” Our ears naturally flush things out, that’s why it’s challenging to deliver medication there. McKenna and his collaborators at USC and Harvard are working on a way to make it stick. He calls it bone velcro. “A kind of molecular anchor that connects it to the bone inside the inner ear, where it stays and hopefully carries out its function,” said McKenna.

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.

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