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Children invited to take part in a new research study

Researchers at University College London (UCL) are investigating the effect of noisy listening environments on children’s ability to understand speech and would like to invite your child to take part. By Katharina Zenke and Shiran Koifman at UCL Trying to understand a speaker in a noisy environment with many other people speaking at the same time, such as in a classroom, can be a struggle for anyone. While many children are able to successfully cope in such challenging listening situations, some...

A new drug to protect hearing?

Certain medicines can harm hearing as a side-effect. We funded research to understand how a new drug might protect hearing when someone has to take one of these medicines. Tracey, from our Research team, explains in her blog post. Some medicines, such as the anti-cancer drug cisplatin, and a type of antibiotic, the aminoglycosides, save lives but this can be at the cost of a person’s hearing. As a result, these drugs are often called ‘ototoxic’, or ear-toxic, medicines. Cisplatin is...

Protecting hearing from ear-toxic medicines

With the help of our funding, researchers at the UCL Ear Institute have shown that structures called stress granules, which form when a cell is damaged or otherwise stressed, can protect hair cells from the damage caused by ototoxic (ear-toxic) medicines, such as aminoglycoside antibiotics. Dr Ralph Holme, from our Research team, tells us more. Hearing can be damaged by the side effects of some life-saving medicines used to treat serious bacterial infections and some types of cancer. One of...

Could reducing brain inflammation be a way to treat tinnitus?

Scientists in the US have identified a link between inflammation in sound processing regions of the brain and tinnitus in mice. They have discovered that a molecule called TNF-alpha is key to this link, and that blocking its activity reduced tinnitus in the mice. This research could be the first step towards developing an effective treatment for tinnitus. Tracey from our research team tells us more. Tinnitus is a sound, usually ringing, hissing or roaring, heard in the ears or...

Preventing hereditary hearing loss using gene editing technology

Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital in the US have used gene editing technology to prevent progressive hearing loss in mice with a genetic form of deafness which is also found in people (DFNA36). Tracey Pollard, from our research team, tells us more. Most cases of hereditary deafness or hearing loss are caused by changes (mutations) in the DNA of our genes. Genes are made up of strings of building blocks called nucleotides – there are four...

Hearing loss – from genes to treatments

To develop new and effective treatments for hearing loss, researchers need to understand how hearing works in detail, and what changes when someone loses their hearing. The first step in this process is often to find the genes involved in hearing. But why is this step so important? We already know of more than 100 genes that are linked to hearing loss in people. Mostly, these genes cause hearing loss that is present at birth, or develops soon after, and...

Treatments for hearing loss and tinnitus – what’s the future?

Action on Hearing Loss worked with an international group of clinicians to produce an article listing the companies currently developing treatments to protect or restore hearing, or silence tinnitus. Hearing loss affects almost half a billion people in the world, and is also a risk factor for several other conditions, such as depression and dementia. In spite of this, there are still no treatments available to protect or restore hearing, or silence tinnitus. In the laboratories of universities, hospitals, biotechnology and...

Identifying antibiotics that are less toxic to the ear

We funded a consortium of researchers from universities and industry to identify antibiotics, which are less toxic to the ear, but that are still effective in fighting life-threatening bacterial infections. The results have now been published in the journal Scientific Reports. Our Translational Research Manager, Dr Carina Santos, tells us more about their work. Aminoglycoside antibiotics, such as gentamicin, are a type of antibiotic which are very effective in treating life-threatening bacterial infections, but that have serious side effects. These...

Gene therapy breakthrough for hearing loss

A team of international researchers have used a new gene therapy technique to restore hearing in mice with a genetic form of deafness that is similar to a type found in people (called DFNB9). Our Translational Research Manager, Dr Carina Santos, tells us more about their work. There are three main types of treatments that could, in the future, restore hearing: drug-based treatments, stem cell therapies and gene therapies. All have the potential to change the lives of the millions...

Regenerating hair cells – another piece of the puzzle

Hair cells are crucial for our ability to hear, but we still don’t know exactly how they develop in the inner ear, or all the genes and processes that combine to make sure they work correctly. New research that we funded has shed light on how one particular gene is involved – Tracey Pollard from our research team explains more. We fund research into the genetics and biology of hearing loss, to find the genes we need to hear,...