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How close is a cure to hearing loss?

 
Hearing loss is becoming more and more common, and government estimates see instances growing substantially over the coming decades.
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The Radical does Personal and tells of his increasing deafness, the left through infection and the right ear through age. I am hard of hearing more concern is the increased Tinnitus noise that interferes with communication.Hearing loss in Decibels has dramatically increased and I am off to the Hospital this morning for further investigations.How do I cope with it ? Badly but Get in Touch if you want to share your experiences of deafness or tinnitus.
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Already affecting more than 10 million in the UK, levels of hearing loss can vary from mild to severe.
 
How close is a cure to hearing loss?
 
But the lasting effects of hearing loss can be far reaching – beyond just the ability to hear.
 
The condition can lead to depression and may play a role in the onset of dementia.
 
Because of this, there are concerted and determined efforts by researchers to find a cure for the affliction.
 
Several cases of hearing loss are created by a lack of proper ear protection or unavoidable trauma.
 
And, many suffer from deafness or hearing impairment due to conditions at birth, hereditary reasons or old age.
 
For so many, the hope for a cure is real.
 
But, exactly how close are we to curing hearing loss?
 
There are research projects underway all over the world – many of them focusing on boosting technology, finding genetic causes for the condition, as well as discovering medical treatments that can provide relief or even cure hearing loss.
 
And although there is progress, research funds are tight and those in the scientific community are calling for different priorities moving forward.
 
There are research projects underway all over the world
 
Unlocking the Genetic Causes of Hearing Loss
 
In several research universities, they are using gene therapy techniques to help uncover the keys to several kinds of hearing loss.
 
Researchers in the new frontiers of genetic research are helping to understand how genes can cause deafness and spur on hearing loss.
 
There are several types of hearing loss that can be attributed to trauma, damage, or lack of proper anatomy in the inner ear.
 
Hearing loss occurs when the tiny hair cells responsible for hearing can no longer send the appropriate electronic signals to the brain.
 
Scientists have been trying to restore hearing by re-growing or re-building these hair cells.
 
Currently, researchers in America and elsewhere have two focal points: protecting current hair cells from being damaged and being able to grow new ones.
 
“Hearing loss is the second most prevalent affliction, after anemia, worldwide,” said Peter Barr-Gillespie, a researcher at Oregon Health & Science University, in a recent media report.
 
“People don’t realise how great the effect it has on your life, or how prevalent it is.”
 
Genetic therapy has become important since a discovery by scientists at the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in America over a year ago.
 
The TSRI study, published in the journal Neuron, showed scientists how mutations in a gene called Tmie were causing deafness from birth, or even leading to hearing decline in later years.
 
“This raises hopes that we could, in principle, use gene-therapy approaches to restore function in hair cells and thus develop new treatment options for hearing loss,” said Professor Ulrich Müller, senior author of the study, at the time of the original breakthrough.
 
Although there has been an understanding that the Tmie gene exists, it was not quite understood how it affects or controls hearing. In the recent studies, researchers were able to create mutations within the gene and track changes in hearing.
 
By testing on mice, they were able to see some reversal in poor hearing by removing the mutated genes.
 
Müller said researchers still need to learn how the individual components of the ear work in order to truly understand the genetic effects on hearing.
 
Unlocking the Genetic Causes of Hearing Loss
 
Medical Breakthroughs in Hearing Loss Treatment
 
Another pathway to a cure that is bearing fruit is through medical therapies and research.
 
Different than genetics, these scientists are reaching breakthroughs by medical procedures or drug therapies to achieve results in turning back hearing loss.
 
Recent research at Case Western University in Pennsylvania has shown progress how certain proteins affect hearing.
 
They have discovered compounds that may help rebuild the hair cells.
 
If these therapies work, and if researchers can stimulate human cells to actively use of the protein, the finding could be seen as a breakthrough to a cure.
 
“Our research tells us that constant movement, replacement and adjustment among proteins in the inner ear’s hair bundles serve a maintenance and even repair function,” said senior author Brian McDermott, PhD, associate professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Case Western.
 
In other studies, researchers are injecting patients’ inner ears with a harmless, but genetically modified virus.
 
The virus is designed to stimulate the development of sound-sensing “hair cells” in the cochlea.
 
If it works, it may be able to stimulate the growth of new hair cells in other parts of the ear.
 
“If we could re-grow the hair cells of the inner ear of humans, there’s no question that the hearing would be better,” said lead researcher Dr Lawrence Lustig in an interview.
 
“It was known for years that birds can regenerate the hair cells. … It’s really taken us a long time to figure out all the molecular steps that occur to allow us to sort of rewire what we do to our own inner ear to allow us to re-grow hair cells in mammals.”
 
Medical Breakthroughs in Hearing Loss Treatment
 
Greater Emphasis on Hearing Loss Research
 
Published in an issue of The Lancet, UK-based researchers say there must be future studies into how public health concerns are managed – especially hearing related research.
 
The goal of hearing loss research needs to be a greater understanding of the condition and development of new treatments, they say.
 
“Although hearing loss is not deadly, it can have a profound impact on people’s ability to maintain relationships, lead a normal life and go out to work,” said study co-author Dr Helen Henshaw, a University of Nottingham academic based at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit.
 
Henshaw was very direct in saying why increased financial support for finding relief to hearing loss.
 
She said the high proportion of the British population suffering with hearing loss requires it to be higher in funding priorities.
 
According to the NIHR, hearing loss is currently one of six health priority areas for research. But the subject falls short in actual funding.
 
For hearing loss, £47 per one lost year of healthy life is spent.
 
This is in comparison to other priority conditions: sight loss at £99 and diabetes at £399.
 
Greater Emphasis on Hearing Loss Research
 
Better Hearing Aids
 
Despite a number of beneficial research projects that are helping to reach a cure, hearing experts believe it is still important to advance technological treatments for hearing loss.
 
Hearing aid manufacturers point to the need for more innovative and effective hearing aids. Most agree that treatment questions must focus on the availability and provision of quality hearing aids.
 
Using a mixture of smartphone technology, Bluetooth connections, and even light-based laser emitting diodes, the modern hearing aid is not what many people expect.
 
Even the traditional over-the-year models are improving steadily and are helping sufferers find a new world through better hearing.
 
Researchers are also looking for ways to improve cochlear implants and even began developing tiny products that deliver medicine directly to the inner ear without the need for invasive procedures.
 
It is widely acknowledged that working relationships between the scientific community and the research & development departments of hearing aid manufacturers must work together to finding a cure to hearing loss.
 
The cure to hearing loss may come from different direction, but it is close.

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