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A study by USC suggests a new approach to treating hearing loss

LOS ANGELES (KABC) –

Researchers at the University of Southern California are working on an innovative treatment that could potentially restore hearing loss to millions.

Hearing loss affects two-thirds of people over 70, but it's not just a problem for that age group. Experts say those numbers could double in the next 40 years.

At the Joslyn Senior Center, auditioning is an important part of the work of Rich Krames, 70, who is required to use a telephone a lot, but years of military service and factory work have toned down his hearing.

"I never paid attention to headphones and ear protection and all that, it was never offered to us," said Krames.

How do you hear loud noises and age? ?

The director of the Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience said to think about 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 is permanently damaged (19659003) "They are losing their ability to transmit the sound signal to the brain," said USC chemist Charles McKenna .

McKenna said that a new drug can attack 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 in the inner ear?"

Our ears naturally clear things up, that's why it's difficult to administer medications there. McKenna and his collaborators at USC and Harvard are working on a way to keep it going. He calls it velcro bone.

"A kind of molecular anchor that connects it to the bone inside the inner ear, where it stays and hopefully fulfills its function," McKenna said.

Imagine a gel or liquid that can be applied at the opening of the ear.

So, should you throw away your hearing aids? Not yet, said McKenna.

He added that this new approach offers many promises, but it is still in the initial stage and needs much more research.

But, the potential is exciting for millions of people like Krames. .

"I'm in favor!" he said. "Seem right".

The next step for researchers is to test this approach in animals and move on to clinical trials in humans.

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