Research - Archive

Scientists restore hearing in noise-deafened mice

October 23, 2014 in Community News, Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research

 

 

Medical Xpress
October 20, 2014

Scientists have restored the hearing of mice partly deafened by noise, using advanced tools to boost the production of a key protein in their ears.

By demonstrating the importance of the protein, called NT3, in maintaining communication between the ears and brain, these new findings pave the way for research in humans that could improve treatment of hearing loss caused by noise exposure and normal aging.

In a new paper in the online journal eLife, the team from the University of Michigan Medical School’s Kresge Hearing Research Institute and Harvard University report the results of their work to understand NT3’s role in the inner ear, and the impact of increased NT3 production on hearing after a noise exposure.

Their work also illustrates the key role of cells that have traditionally been seen as the “supporting actors” of the ear-brain connection. Called supporting cells, they form a physical base for the hearing system’s “stars”: the hair cells in the ear that interact directly with the nerves that carry sound signals to the brain. This new research identifies the critical role of these supporting cells along with the NT3 molecules that they produce.

NT3 is crucial to the body’s ability to form and maintain connections between hair cells and nerve cells, the researchers demonstrate. This special type of connection, called a ribbon synapse, allows extra-rapid communication of signals that travel back and forth across tiny gaps between the two types of cells.

“It has become apparent that hearing loss due to damaged ribbon synapses is a very common and challenging problem, whether it’s due to noise or normal aging,” says Gabriel Corfas, Ph.D., who led the team and directs the U-M institute. “We began this work 15 years ago to answer very basic questions about the inner ear, and now we have been able to restore hearing after partial deafening with noise, a common problem for people. It’s very exciting.”

Read More . . .

Newcastle University study links childhood infections to hearing loss in later life

October 21, 2014 in Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research

 

 

ChronicalLive.com, UK
Oct 20, 2014
By Helen Rae

Newcastle University research shows common childhood infections may lead to hearing loss later in life

Common childhood infections may lead to hearing loss in later life, a health study has revealed.

Ailments such as tonsillitis and ear infections can seriously damage a youngster’s hearing as they get older, Newcastle University research shows.

The findings are part of the ongoing 1947 Newcastle Thousand Families Study which monitored 1,142 Newcastle-born babies from 1947 to the present day, measuring their health, growth and development.

Now in their 60s a quarter of the “red spot” babies had their hearing tested and the results have been collated.

Dr Mark Pearce, who led the study at the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle University, said: “Our findings show that those who suffered from infections as a child were more likely to have a hearing loss in their 60’s. Reducing childhood infection rates may help prevent hearing loss later in life.

“This study shows the importance of the Newcastle birth cohorts, with the study initially focusing on childhood infections. The study is nearly 70 years old and continues to make a major contribution to understanding health conditions, which is only possible through the continued contribution of cohort members.”

The children, born in May and June 1947, are known as red spot babies because of the way doctors marked their medical files. They have provided invaluable information for studies over the years.

Read More  . . .

Video on – Stanford Initiative to Cure Hearing Loss

October 7, 2014 in Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research

 

Video: The Future of Hearing – Exploring the Challenges and Possibilities

On June 18th, we were pleased to present The Future of Hearing: Exploring the Challenges and Possibilities – an evening with honored guest Vint Cerf.

View video  . . .

 

Ecologist develops elephant-inspired hearing aid

October 6, 2014 in Research

 

 

WIRED.CO.UK / SCIENCE
06 OCTOBER 14
by JOSEPH BENNINGTON-CASTRO

American ecologist and hearing specialistCaitlin O’Connell-Rodwell is developing a new hearing aid inspired by elephants. Along with sound, elephants pick up ground-based vibrations, as the skin of their feet and trunks contains mechanoreceptors that can sense them.

“We [humans] have the same ability to detect vibrations, but people with normal hearing don’t focus on it,” says O’Connell-Rodwell.

She has partnered with HNU Photonics, a research company based on Maui, Hawaii, to develop a patch that adheres to the skin; this transduces sound into vibrations, which the brain interprets as a kind of Braille or Morse code. When participants touch the device, tiny electromagnets vibrate. Mechanoreceptors sense the vibrations, and send signals to the brain.

It turns out that the vibrotactile sense of the hearing-impaired is more pronounced than that of people with normal hearing, because their brains process the stimuli in the unused auditory cortex. “There’s a big population that is underserved… and could benefit from the same use of vibrations as elephants.”

 

Stanford Initiative to Cure Hearing Loss | Sept. 2014 e-newsletter

October 2, 2014 in Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research

 

 

The latest news on Stanford’s research to protect and restore hearing

stanfordHL

View original email in your browser

Leading the Way:

In Research to Cure Hearing Loss

The Stanford Initiative to Cure Hearing Loss (SICHL) labs are hard at work developing safe and effective ways to protect and restore hearing. Some of our labs are working on gaining a better understanding of the mechanisms of hearing, while others are working on regenerative therapies and making life saving drugs safer for the ear.

In addition to the ongoing research:

In June, Stanford hosted The Future of Hearing: Exploring the Challenges and Possibilitiesan informative evening with honored guest Vint Cerf.

The Stanford Ear Institute opened in July and provides expert care for people of all ages with diseases of the ear and related structures.

Below you will find links to: the numerous recently published papers from our labs and many other updates, events and news stories.

As always, please help us spread awareness of this exciting research at Stanford by sharing this newsletter with your friends and family.

Wishing You a Happy Fall
– The SICHL Team

 


The Stanford Ear Institute (SEI) opened in July to provide excellent care for patients of all ages with diseases of the inner ear and related structures.  Read more about the SEI here and here


Dr. Jackler and members of the SICHL team recently attended the AAO-HNS Annual Meeting, where they gave talks and participated in expert panel discussions. Read


Stanford hosted an informative evening, “The Future of Hearing” Exploring the Challenges and Possibilities,” with honored guest Vint Cerf and panelists. Watch video


SICHL was honored to attend the AG Bell Convention 2014 and present a poster outlining the research currently underway in our labs. View poster

IN THE NEWS:

New York Times: Building a Robot with Human Touch

John Markoff discusses Dr. Blevins’ collaboration with Stanford Roboticists and Software Developers to make it possible to rehearse delicate inner ear surgeries.

Dana Foundation: Closing the Gap Between Cochlear Implants and Natural Hearing

Carl Sherman discusses ways in which researchers, including Dr. Oghalai, are working to make the experience of hearing with a cochlear implant closer to that of natural hearing.

 

Recent Publications:

Cheng Lab:

Protein-Engineered Hydrogel Encapsulation for 3-D Culture of Murine Cochlea.

Blevins and Popelka Labs:

Comprehensive Measures of Sound Exposures in Cinemas Using Smart Phones.

Heller Lab:

Cisplatin exposure damages resident stem cells of the mammalian inner Ear

Inner ear hair cell-like cells from human embryonic stem cells.

Mustapha Lab:

A lack of immune system genes causes loss in high frequency hearing but does not disrupt cochlear synapse maturation in mice.

Oghalai Lab:

Vibration of the organ of Corti within the cochlear apex in mice.

Puria Lab:

The importance of the hook region of the cochlea for bone-conduction hearing

Development of a finite element model for normal and pathological middle ears: Impedance, reflectance, and sweep frequency impedance.

Ricci Lab:

Role of intracellular calcium stores in hair-cell ribbon synapse.

The how and why of identifying the hair cell mechano-electrical transduction channel.

 

Find More Online:

As always, you can find all our latest news on the SICHL blog, or you can find us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouTube – just click on the icons below.

We are also currently in the process of redesigning SICHL lab websites, which will have lots of in-depth information about the labs and research.  Click through to see the newly re-launched sites for:
Cheng Ear LabHeller Lab,

 

 

Hand gestures improve learning in both signers, speakers

October 2, 2014 in Research

 

 

Science Daily
Date: August 19, 2014
Source: University of Chicago

 

Summary:
Spontaneous gesture can help children learn, whether they use a spoken language or sign language, according to a new report. “Children who can hear use gesture along with speech to communicate as they acquire spoken language,” a researcher said. “Those gesture-plus-word combinations precede and predict the acquisition of word combinations that convey the same notions. The findings make it clear that children have an understanding of these notions before they are able to express them in speech.”

Using gestures helps children develop basic learning and cognitive skills, aiding them in problem-solving tasks.

Research shows – The ruffling effect of rumble

October 2, 2014 in Research

 

 

Science Daily
October 2, 2014
Source: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen (LMU)

Summary:
Barely perceptible low-frequency signals nevertheless activate measurable responses in our auditory circuits. Neurobiologists have now characterized the remarkable impact of low-frequency sounds on the inner ear.

Sources of low-frequency signals are a prominent feature of technologically advanced societies like our own. Wind turbines, air-conditioning systems and heat pumps, for instance, can generate such sounds. Hearing thresholds in this region of the acoustic spectrum vary from one person to the next. “But the assumption that the ear is unresponsive to low-frequency sounds because these are seldom consciously perceived is actually quite false. The ear indeed reacts to very low-frequency signals,” says one investigator.

Are you interested in how the brain processes language?

September 12, 2014 in Research

 

 

Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto’s Brain and Language Laboratory for Neuroimaging (BL2) at Gallaudet University is currently recruiting candidates for our study. Right now we are studying how people with cochlear implants process language.
Participants will perform simple, language-related computer tasks, and will be compensated $20 per hour for their time. You may be a able to participate if you:
1) were born deaf,
2) are 18 years or older,
3) are right-handed,
4) received a cochlear implant at a young age (as a baby or child),
5) know ASL
If you are interested, please email us at bl2@gallaudet.edu
Click here for a brief video (ASL and English) explaining how to participate.  See our flier here.
Our study has been approved by the Gallaudet Institutional Review Board. 

SIU professor studies using chili peppers to help prevent hearing loss

August 28, 2014 in Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research

 

 

The Southern – Illinoisan
August 21, 2014
Article Source

SPRINGFIELD — A physician researcher at SIU School of Medicine has been awarded a five-year federal grant from the National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health to continue his studies of how to reduce hearing loss in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

The current research project will examine whether capsaicin, a component of hot chili peppers, can reduce hearing loss and kidney damage if given prior to or after a dose of cisplatin, an anti-cancer drug frequently used for chemotherapy. Read more . . . →

Link found between hearing loss and cognitive health

August 21, 2014 in Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research

 

 

For News-Herald Media
August 18, 2014

Difficulty hearing may be more than just a quality-of-life issue. Growing evidence indicates that untreated hearing loss in older adults can lead to other health conditions, and one of the most concerning is cognitive decline.

In fact, a Johns Hopkins Study found that cognitive diminishment was 41 percent more likely in seniors with hearing loss. Because maintaining the health of the brain is such a priority for older people, hearing difficulties should not be ignored.

Hearing and the brain

To hear well, the brain and ears work together. Sound is heard through the ears, and then the brain translates the noise so you can understand what it is. This means you not only hear language, music and traffic, but you comprehend these are all different sounds with different meanings.

With untreated hearing loss, the signals to your brain are weaker, and therefore you have to think much harder to understand the noises around you. When the brain is using more cognitive resources to understand sounds, other brain activities like memory and comprehension can suffer, often causing cognitive decline.

Effects of untreated hearing loss

In addition to diminished mental health, untreated hearing loss can lead to numerous health conditions: mental fatigue and stress, poor memory, concentration difficulty, social withdrawal and depression.

Read more . . .

NIDCD Scientists Advance Understanding of Molecules in Deafness Genes, Head & Neck Cancers

August 14, 2014 in Research

 

 

NIH-NID

August 12, 2014

NIDCD Scientists Advance Understanding of Molecules in Deafness Genes, Head & Neck Cancers

NIH Researchers Characterize Elusive Myosin 15, Protein Linked to a Form of Hereditary Hearing Loss

NIH researchers report that they have purified a key part of myosin 15, a molecular motor protein that helps build healthy hearing structures in the inner ear. Mutations in the myosin 15 gene (MYO15A) have been linked to a form of hereditary deafness in humans. Using a novel approach to express the protein, researchers have revealed the first detailed insight into the molecule’s structure and function, laying the foundation for new treatments for some forms of hearing loss. The new approach to expressing myosin 15 may also help the study of other types of myosin motors, such as skeletal and cardiac muscle myosins, which could accelerate development of targeted drug therapies for heart disease and other health conditions. The study was published online August 11 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read more »

Researchers Find Molecular Similarities Among Head and Neck, Lung, and Bladder Cancers

Researchers at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), working as part of a team of scientists with The Cancer Genome Atlas Network, have identified a characteristic molecular pattern shared by head and neck, lung, and some bladder cancers. The molecular profile offers information that could help physicians diagnose and develop new treatment strategies for these diseases. The results of the study appeared online August 7 in the journal Cell. Read more »

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Cochlear Implant Also Uses Gene Therapy to Improve Hearing

August 1, 2014 in Research, Technology

 

 

MIT Technology Review
By Katherine Bourzac
Article Source

The electrodes in a cochlear implant can be used to direct gene therapy and regrow neurons.

Researchers have demonstrated a new way to restore lost hearing: with a cochlear implant that helps the auditory nerve regenerate by delivering gene therapy.

The researchers behind the work are investigating whether electrode-triggered gene therapy could improve other machine-body connections—for example, the deep-brain stimulation probes that are used to treat Parkinson’s disease, or retinal prosthetics.

More than 300,000 people worldwide have cochlear implants. The devices are implanted in patients who are profoundly deaf, having lost most or all of the ear’s hair cells, which detect sound waves through mechanical vibrations, and convert those vibrations into electrical signals that are picked up by neurons in the auditory nerve and passed along to the brain. Cochlear implants use up to 22 platinum electrodes to stimulate the auditory nerve; the devices make a tremendous difference for people but they restore only a fraction of normal hearing.

“Cochlear implants are very effective for picking up speech, but they struggle to reproduce pitch, spectral range, and dynamics,” says Gary Housley, a neuroscientist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, who led development of the new implant.

Read more . . .

Two ears are better than one

August 1, 2014 in Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research

 

 

Medical Press, Australia
by Anne Rahilly
Article Source

Hearing-impaired children fitted with a second cochlear implant (CI) early in life, have significantly better outcomes in aspects of their communication and learning.

A five-year research study from the University of Melbourne shows that bilateral  implantation resulted in improved language, social development, and academic outcomes for children.

Lead researcher, Dr Julia Sarant from the Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology said there are improved learning outcomes as well as, community cost benefits and greatly improved quality of life for hearing-impaired children.

“Children in this study with bilateral CIs developed vocabulary and spoken language significantly faster than children with only one CI. This has enormous implications for their long-term future,” she said.

Severe-profound congenital hearing loss is a significant cost to society. In 2005, specialised education cost on average $25,000 per child, loss of productivity cost $6.7 billion, and social security benefits were paid to approximately 129,000 individuals who were unemployed due to hearing loss

The study was conducted across Victoria, NSW, Qld, SA, and New Zealand, involving cochlear implant clinics and early intervention centres with over 160 children.

Recently, the NZ Health Department recommended a change of the current federal funding policy in favour of having all hearing-impaired  under the age of six years fitted with bilateral implants.

“I was asked to consult with policy makers in NZ and I am pleased they have noted these findings and made the appropriate changes,” said Dr Sarant.

 

NDI Report Finds Adults with Disabilities Continue to be Economically Shortchanged

July 31, 2014 in Disability Law, Research

NDI

NDI REPORT FINDS ADULTS WITH DISABILITIES CONTINUE TO BE ECONOMICALLY SHORTCHANGED DESPITE ADA’S GUARANTEE

As the U.S. celebrates the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26, a first-of-its-kind report shows people with disabilities are less financially stable than people without disabilities

(Washington, D.C. – July 22, 2014) – A new report released today from National Disability Institute (NDI) shows 24 years after the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law and guaranteed all individuals with disabilities the opportunity to achieve “economic self-sufficiency,”people with disabilities are less financially stable than people without disabilities.

Based on data collected from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation’s 2012 National Financial Capability Study released last year, this groundbreaking report highlights for the first time a nationwide snapshot of the financial capability and financial wellness of adults with disabilities.

National Disability Institute’s report, Financial Capability of Adults with Disabilities – Findings from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation 2012 National Financial Capability Study,analyzed data from 1,363 of the more than 25,000 respondents to the National Financial Capability Study (NFCS) self-identifying as “permanently sick, disabled or unable to work.” While the report analyzes one segment of people with disabilities, the results provide an important lens on the financial capability of many Americans with disabilities. According to U.S. Census data, nearly one in three people with disabilities in the United States live in poverty, a figure nearly double the national poverty rate.

Read more . . . →

New Interactive Studio Allows Deaf Children to ‘Hear’

July 29, 2014 in Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research, Technology

 

 

http://www.designntrend.com
by Osvaldo Nunez , Design & Trend Contributor
Article Source

In a spectacular merging of engineering and acoustics, The Cooper Union in New York City has created a unique learning environment for deaf and hearing-impaired children.

By installing an interactive light studio at the American Sign Language and English Lower School in New York City, the studio displayed entertaining images and graphics on an interactive screen. The pre-kindergarten children using the 270-square-foot space get to learn through their interactions with the moving images and light pulses and the displays allow them to actually understand the intricacies of sound, despite the fact that they can’t actually hear.

“We are creating a learning environment in which deaf and hearing-impaired children can explore and appreciate the various qualities of music and sound through the interplay of light and vibration,” said Melody Baglione, a professor at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. “We have developed technologies enabling the children to visualize sound.”

Read More  . . .