Hearing Loss: Research
1. Role of damaged hair cells
Researchers at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) are working on the effect that damaged hair cells have on hearing impairment. According to the team, most of the hearing loss is caused due to damaged hair cells in the ear that do not regenerate as opposed to birds. In mammals, the prospect of growing these hair cells back through gene therapy is thus being widely studied in conjunction with understanding the role of various genes that affect the process of hearing.
2. Oral steroids versus locally injected steroids
Researchers at National Institutes of Health are conducting researches on the effectiveness of steroid treatment against sudden deafness. Dr. Steven Rauch of Harvard School and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary conducted a study on the effect of directly injecting steroid into the middle ear of the suffering patients, a procedure termed as intratympanic treatment. While the patients who were administered with oral steroids experienced weight gain, mood swings and sleep disorders, the injected steroid patients suffered from pain at the injected site, local infection, perforated eardrum and vertigo. The success of either of the steroids needs to be assessed further however, administration of injected steroids could be the key to treating people who cannot take oral steroids due to medical reasons.
3. Mutations in genes: A cause of hearing impairment
A team of Californian researchers from The Scripps Research Institute have identified the role of the gene Loxhd1 in inducing hearing loss in older people. A mouse line was thus created with cloned and mutated Loxhd1 genes, the results demonstrated the mice suffered from complete hearing loss shortly after birth. The results paved the way for a similar study that was conducted on patients suffering from hearing impairment and evinced mutations in the gene were indeed present in some of these families. As a result of the study certain therapeutic drugs are being researched upon that may assist in reversing the molecular defect that these mutated genes cause.