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Thread: Hearing Restoration Project

  1. #1
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    Default Hearing Restoration Project

    The Hearing Restoration Project of Hearing Health Foundation is a Consortium made up of some of the most talented, creative, inspired researchers in the area of cell regeneration in the ear, both mid-level and senior-level investigators, whose work has already contributed significantly to the field. This alliance of scientists has pledged to work collaboratively and interactively with one another, sharing information and data to expedite the timeline to a cure. Projects funded by the Hearing Restoration Project will commence in early 2012. The goal of the HRP is to develop a biologic cure for severe sensorineural hearing loss in the next decade.

    What is Cell Regeneration in the Inner Ear?
    Tiny cells called hair cells are located in the inner ears of birds, as well as mammals, and are required for normal hearing. Hair cells were named as such because they have thin structures that resemble the hairs on your head. Hair cells convert sound information into electrical signals that are sent to the brain. Once hair cells die in mammas--including humans-- hearing loss is permanent.

    Many types of commonly acquired hearing loss are the result of damage or death to these delicate hair cells, including noise-induced hearing loss, presbycusis (age-related hearing loss), and ototoxic hearing loss (hearing loss that occurs after a patient is exposed to certain life-saving medications).

    In the late 1980s, both Dr. Edwin Rubel (then at University of Virginia and now at University of Washington) and Dr. Douglas Cotanche (then at University of Pennsylvania and now at Harvard School of Public Policy) discovered that even after chickens' hair cells had been deliberately destroyed in their labs, the cells grew back.

    Today, about a dozen labs in the United States are working on ways to translate to humans what we already know about hair cell regeneration in chickens. One approach is to stimulate existing stem-like cells in the human inner ear to regenerate hair cells, by delivering molecules that stimulate new hair cell production. Studies in animals that spontaneously regenerate hair cells, such as birds and fish, are unveiling important molecules needed to reach this goal. A second approach is to transplant stem-like cells into the damaged ear that can give rise to new hair cells. Different labs are working on different pieces of the puzzle; some are working on gene therapies, some are working on stem cell therapies, and others are working on possible ways to integrate both approaches. When these labs are successful at solving the puzzle of regeneration, there will be a biological cure for deafness.

    Why fund the Hearing Restoration Project Now?
    We have better technology available today than we did even ten years ago.
    Today, there are more tools and information available to researchers than ever before. Scientists have a much better understanding of the mechanisms involved in regeneration because the genomes for many animals that they study, including chickens, mice, and zebrafish, have been or are being sequenced which allows the researchers to characterize and manipulate more genes.
    There are several recent lines of evidence that provide strong impetus to researchers to keep trying. Stem cell research is promising; recent research indicates that resident progenitors can be coaxed to form new hair cells in adult mammals; Scientists in this field feel now more than ever that discovery of treatment options in mammalian models is imminent and that biological therapies for humans is within reach.

    The state of the economy lends itself to the HRP model.
    Federal funding for research, which support most traditional research on hearing loss, are falling and investigators are leaving the field.
    Collaborative projects have become more attractive to people whose resources are more limited because they involve logical, economical division of labor.
    Investigators are avidly seeking options that involve synergy, to provide them with leads to pursue with federal and non-federal funding.

    More people need help with hearing loss today than ever before!
    The number one malady of men and women returning from war is hearing loss (and associated tinnitus); 70% of deployed servicemen or women have hearing loss and/or tinnitus. With two wars in progress, hearing loss is a bigger issue than ever before.
    The use of personal listening devices in children in particular is poorly monitored and therefore on the rise. Recent statistics show 1 in 5 teenagers now has a hearing loss.
    Baby boomers are reaching the age when hearing and balance problems are starting to impact their lives.
    First treatment in 2007. Pioneering ever since.

    Barbara

  2. #2

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    I've given to this for a couple of years now, ever since I discovered it.

    I think it's the best hope for us, and I also joined the Hearing Health Foundation, who sponsor this.

    The cure can't come quick enough for me, so I feel if I'm not doing my part, I can't complain about how long it's taking

    If there are any other resources out there that are working on reviving the 'hair cells', I'd be very interested in knowing about it.

    Thanks,
    Bob

  3. #3

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    bob o rama, your in the same boat as me as i need this for my 4 year old who was suddenly struck with severe hearing loss 2-3 years ago. Lets keep our fingers crossed.

  4. #4

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    Mine was damaged by an allergy to dust mites - and it was misdiagnosed 3 times by a world famous ENT. A local ENT properly diagnosed the cause, and I've taken steps to prevent it from happening again, but the damage is already done.

    I hope my contribution shaves a day or two off the cure.

    Bob

  5. #5

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    bob, how did your local ENT doc find out that your hearing loss was caused by allergy to dust mites?? What did the other ENT docs say??
    How have you taken measures to prevent it again?? There is no known cause to why my child had this hearing loss as she was born with it, and every test so far is done to find the cause which is inconclusive.

  6. #6
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    bob-a-rama - My dogs and cats were having problems with scratching at their ears and shaking their heads. One vet said it was ear mites and all were given medication for that. It didn't help. The one dog's ears were especially bad and his hearing was deteriorating. He was spending most of the day scratching. One of the cats also seemed to be losing the hair on her ears. After many visits to a couple of different vets, I took the cat with the hair loss to a veterinarian dermatologist and he said it was an allergy to dust mites!

    I have made big efforts to wash the blankets they sleep on frequently in very hot water. I also started a regimen of washing the ears. I added fish oil and coconut oils to their diets as well as Stemtrition. I also rubbed a little lavender and frank incense oil in his ears with the coconut oil. The last time the groomer groomed the dog whose ears were so bad, she commented that they looked better than she had ever seen them. Until this happened, I had no idea how damaging dust mite allergies could be.
    First treatment in 2007. Pioneering ever since.

    Barbara

  7. #7

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    Barbara, I know about ear mites infecting mammals, and they are a different animal from dust mites. I used to have cats with ear mites, and we fixed them with veterinary ear drops.

    I had no warning, no itching, no oozing, no caking, not even a difference in ear wax. It happened suddenly one day with no physical symptoms.

    Harry, the second ENT looked at the audiogram from my hearing test and said, "It looks to me that this is an allergy problem." He went on to say that back in the 60s, two doctors (and he named them) theorized that allergies can cause hearing problems. He said that the entire industry laughed at them, but now people are finally starting to verify that their findings were correct. Then he explained that the first clue was the shape of the hearing loss curve and the fact that it was practically the same in both ears.

    (There are dozens more causes of SSHL, and probably more that they don't understand yet.)

    Then he gave me a RAST blood test for the 20 odd allergens that are suspected to cause hearing damage. Dust mites showed a big positive, I had plenty of antibodies for them in my blood.

    In layman's terms (or at least the way I understand it) is that there are dust mites everywhere. They eat discarded skin cells that we all shed from day to day. The mites leave behind both waste products and exoskeletons. My body discovered the foreign protein that I probably breathed in from my pillow and decided it was an invasion, so it set up an immune response. The inflammation caused tissues to swell and that cut off the blood supply in tiny little capillaries that feed the inner ear.

    I never went back to the first ENT. He was thinking auto-immune disease. He suggested putting me on steroids for life partnering with a rheumatologist and then drilling a hole in my eardrum so he could inject the steroids directly into my inner ear. He also wanted me to sign a statement that if it went wrong and I got worse from the treatment, I wouldn't be able to sue him. That's when I decided to get a second opinion.

    << REWIND <<

    I'm a musician, and I've worn musician's ear plugs since I was in my late 20s. I measure the sound pressure levels with an SPL meter and wear the appropriate filter. They are high fidelity, custom fit and designed especially for musicians. I carry them with me and whenever there is a loud environment, I wear them. This includes neighbors houses that run their TV too loud. Nothing over 85dba has entered my ears in over 35 years.

    When I was in my 50s I got the first attack. I woke up fine, and by 11:AM couldn't understand speech. Distortion like an old, blown out, drive-in movie speaker - much worse than a drive up fast food place.

    I went to my 1st ENT, I'd been going to him for yers for my filters and annual hearing tests and up to this time my hearing showed only mild damage and was stable at that. (No more than anyone else my age.)

    He tested my ears, verified the problem, and gave me a week of prednisone. Well after the first attack, most but not all of my hearing came back.

    About a year later, a second attack, this time 2 weeks of prednisone. A little less came back than the first time. Now it's mild to moderate damage.

    A few months later a huge attack (I guess my immune system was getting determined) some predisone, then some twice as strong prednisone, then another steroid 10 times stronger than prednisone and after the >3months of steroids, I was left with severe damage.

    >> FAST FORWARD >>

    I got the barriers for the bedding, and even had the living room chairs reupholstered having the shop put the dust mite barriers between the fabric and the filling. I also got a dehumidifier for the bedroom (they can't live under 40% unless they can dive deep into the fabric and the barriers prevent that), and a HEPA vacuum cleaner. I use a neti pot daily too.

    But I'm a musician and I go to places with dust mites. I've learned to recognize the early warning signals (two-tone tinnitus with the low pitch with my pulse) and I immediately take Children's Dimetapp. It's been years and I haven't had another big attack. The few that I've had have been nipped in the bud with Dimetapp. It takes about a half hour.

    I can still hear musical pitches fine, so I can still play music. But when I play I don't have my hearing aids in, but instead ear plugs, so I cannot understand a word the audience members say.

    What happened is I lost my high frequency hearing and thus my ability to recognize like sounding consonants so a P, B, T, D, K and similar consonants that sound the same, as do F, S, Sh, Th, V etc., M, N, etc., and so many others.

    The consonants also define the division between words in speech. So when someone speaks to me, they may as well be speaking Dutch or German (I don't comprehend either). Wearing the hearing aids help with people who have good diction, but if someone doesn't speak clearly, I can't make it out at all.

    Even if they do speak clearly, I have to interpret the consonants within the context of the sentence. Due to this many words are misheard. The word pool can sound like tool or cool or duel, and if two or three words are combined and misheard, some very creative phrases can be understood. But if they aren't too weird, I could hear something I think is correct but is completely off base.

    I don't go to the movies anymore (they are way over 85dba anyway) but rent them at home. If they are not subtitled or closed captioned, I can't watch them because I can't understand the dialog.

    I haven't watched TV since the 1980s, but if I did, it would have to be captioned.

    If I go somewhere that I need to understand what is being said, like the doctors, my wife comes with me, as she can hear well. Who knows what I may think I hear but in reality is something different.

    I get very irritated with the religious people that have effectively delayed stem cell research for 10 or so years. I've nothing against religion, but the second amendment forbids the US from having a state religion. So if someone doesn't want to take advantage of stem cell research, it's their choice, but with freedom of religion, they shouldn't have the right to prevent me from following my belief system, and my system says if God gave us the intelligence to discover stem cell therapy, we should be able to use it. Oops, I'm on a rant (sorry).

    Hopefully regrowing those hair cells will come before it's too late for me, tomorrow won't be soon enough. Hopefully my contribution to the Hearing Restoration Project will make it happen a day earlier, and that plenty of other people will add their days to the cure.

    Bob
    Last edited by bob-a-rama; 03-02-2014 at 05:56 PM.

  8. #8
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    bob-a-rama - What I was saying was the 2 vets thought they were ear mites in my pets. The medication they had me give them didn't help at all. Finally, another vet who specialized in dermatology said the problems were caused by dust mites. He was right. I made some changes and my pets are a lot better. The one dog did suffer some hearing loss.

    What you have described is horrible, but I believe every word of it after experiencing this with my animals.

    You stated that you get very irritated with religious people that have delayed stem cell research for 10 years or so. I hope you will read some of the articles on this forum because only federally funded stem cell research using embryonic stem cells from new lines was affected. The fact that we aren't a lot further with adult stem cell research and actual clinical trials in this country can be blamed on politicians, researchers and groups like CIRM that put all their eggs (pun intended) in one basket - the esc research basket.

    Even James Thomson, America's most celebrated bioscientist does not see a future in embryonic stem cells in mainstream research. In this article he states, " “I hate to be the one who says they’re dead.”

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/0a12441a-9...#axzz2usOwlpdF

    If you want to get irritated, might I suggest you get irritated at the FDA for regulating our own stem cells as drugs, thus delaying important clinical applications for years to come, possibly decades. Margaret Hamburg, appointed by President Obama, promised more regulations and she has delivered. The entire premise that our stem cells are drugs is preposterous. Get irritated at politicians who accept Big Pharma campaign contributions and who continue to allow the FDA to grow unchecked. Get irritated at those in research and academia who have conflicts of interest and wish to protect those interests at the cost of millions of patients who would like to be treated with their own stem cells. Get angry at the media that fails to vet industry spokespeople and very rarely draws a distinction between the types of stem cells. To read most stories you would believe that there is only one kind - embryonic. So far embryonic stem cell research has produced very little. I have to agree with Thomson that there is little future in esc research.
    First treatment in 2007. Pioneering ever since.

    Barbara

  9. #9

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    Thanks.

    I get especially irritated at politicians and the FDA. Both are supposed to represent us, and both end up representing someone other than us.

    And I still blame the religious groups that opposed them, because the politicians were busy catering to them to get their votes.

    As I said before, I have nothing against religion, I just have something against a national religion and laws based on religious law instead of civil law.

    The ban on a national religion was to protect religion as much as the freedom of choice was. Both go hand in hand.

    I also think that since churches don't pay taxes, they shouldn't be involved in any aspect of government, including recommending candidates. It's representation without taxation. Keeping church and state completely separate is a good thing for both church and state.

    About 10 years ago, when the churches were screaming to the politicians to ban stem cell research, a local pastor had a heart attack, and went to Asia to get stem cells. Thanks to the ban here, the Asians were ahead of us. When he came back he made all kinds of rationalizations for doing what he did.

    Hopefully the cure will come before it's too late for me. I donate money to the cause, it's my favorite 'charity' and if it doesn't help in time for me, it may help another in the future.

    Bob

  10. #10
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    Bob - The FDA has grown too powerful. The U.S. is falling behind other countries who are making rapid advances in stem cell therapy. Japan is a good example.

    We can all go on beating the drum about religious opposition to federally funded esc research, but it can't be an excuse for the over reach that is now happening when the FDA has regulated our own stem cells as drugs. This is about power, profits and politics. Billions and billions of dollars are at stake. There isn't any profit in our own stem cells administered by doctors except for doctors! If you have patents you are holding, want to protect your job and bring in grant money for your institution (that more than likely has ties to Big Pharma money), then the last thing you want is patients getting well using their own stem cells. The FDA is also like a big business. New drug applications mean lots of revenue. Big Pharma also wields a lot of influence with the agency, just as it does with politicians of all stripes.

    I don't know who you donate to, but be careful that they represent what you want and are not simply researching endlessly for their own profit.
    .
    First treatment in 2007. Pioneering ever since.

    Barbara

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