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Hearing May Be Regained: Research Provides Hopes

by Medindia Content Team on June 24, 2006 at 12:59 PM
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Hearing May Be Regained: Research Provides Hopes

A US -based research has given hopes that researchers will be able to re-establish growth of specialized hair cells in the ears of humans challenged by deafness. These tiny hairs in the ear are capable of detecting vibrations, which is then translated by the brain into sound. Once lost, these hairs could not be replaced and this resulted in permanent hearing loss.

Approximately, one out of every twenty-four people, across the globe, suffered from disabling hearing loss.

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However, a recent study in mice, published in Nature, revealed that the supporting cells from the inner ear could differentiate into sensory hair cells.

"This research tells us that the supporting cells in mammals have not totally lost the ability to undergo cell division" , said Andy Forge, professor of auditory cell biology, University College of London.
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The researchers discovered a gene called p27 , which could be a potential target for inducing cell division, and reversing hearing loss.

Professor of audiology at the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, at the University of Southampton, Mark Lutman said: "The only similar cells have the been made to regenerate in mammals are vestibular hair cells, so it's not the first time mammalian hair cells have been made to regenerate but it's the first time in the ear".

"In terms of therapeutic applications, that's definitely going to be a long way ahead - 10 or 20 years. The issue is going to be the control of reproliferation, and these mechanisms are not fully understood yet"he added.

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