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Thread: Hair Cells Regenerated, Hearing Restored in Mice

  1. #1
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    Default Hair Cells Regenerated, Hearing Restored in Mice

    BioTechniques
    01/09/2013 Sarah C.P. Williams

    A drug applied to the inner ears of adult mice can spur the regeneration of hair cells, according to researchers at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in the United States and the Keio University School of Medicine in Japan. The drug works by activating a transcription factor involved in hair cell development. The finding is a first in the field—while fish and birds can regenerate hair cells after damage, scientists have never before shown that this is possible in mammals.

    Cochlear hair cells are vital for converting sound waves into electrical signals that inform the brain of noises. They can become damaged or die suddenly through an acoustic injury—the sound of a loud explosion, for example—leading to permanent loss of hearing. Currently, such damage is treated with cochlear implants, surgically implanted devices that convert sounds to electrical signals.
    “Cochlear implants are very successful and have helped a lot of people, but there’s a general feeling among clinicians, scientists, and patients that a biological repair would be preferable,” said Albert Edge, an otologist at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and lead author of the Neuron paper that reports these findings (1).

    Previously, Edge and his colleagues had shown that inhibiting Notch signaling was important for hair cells to form properly during fetal development (2). In their new work, the group tested whether such inhibition of the Notch pathway could also spur hair cell regeneration in adult mammals. First, they tested different inhibitors to determine their effects on isolated ear tissues; this allowed them to pinpoint one, the ɣ-secretase LY411575, that led to increased expression of a number of molecular markers found in hair cells.

    “It was quite a surprise,” said Edge. “We were very excited when we saw that a secretase inhibitor would have any effect at all in an adult animal.”

    Then the scientists tested the inhibitor in mice with hearing damage and reduced hair cell populations caused by exposure to a loud noise. They tagged cells in the inner ear to follow their fate and discovered that the drug, when applied to the inner ears of the mice, caused supporting cells to differentiate into replacement hair cells.

    The researchers found that these replacement hair cells partially restored hearing at low frequencies of sound, although not at higher frequencies. The effect lasted for at least three months, the longest time period tested.

    The study focused on the effect of the drug given one day after noise damage, a time period where Notch signaling is naturally increased, so it is possible that a small window of time exists after an acoustic injury in which the drug must be given to be effective.

    “The improvement we saw is modest,” said Edge. “So we’re now looking at variations of the approach and whether we can use the same drug to treat other types of hearing loss.”

    References

    Mizutari K, Fujioka M, Hosoya M, Bramhall N, et al. Notch Inhibition Induces Cochlear Hair Cell Regeneration and Recovery of Hearing after Acoustic Trauma (2013). Neuron 77, 58-69.
    Jeon, S.J., Fujioka, M., Kim, S.C., and Edge, A.S.B. (2011). Notch signaling alters sensory or neuronal cell fate specification of inner ear stem cells. J. Neurosci. 31, 8351–8358.
    First treatment in 2007. Pioneering ever since.

    Barbara

  2. #2

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    Encouraging news.

    Please hurry!

    Bob

  3. #3
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    My pets did not have ear mites. That's what I was saying. That's what the first couple of vets said. Finally, dermatologist diagnosed it correctly, their problems were from dust mites.
    First treatment in 2007. Pioneering ever since.

    Barbara

  4. #4

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    I feel badly for your pets.

    I found the dehumidifier to be a very good tool (along with the bedding and other barriers). We don't have carpet, use blinds instead of drapes, keep things dusted, and I always keep dimetapp on hand (of course you can't use that on your pets).

    Pe Min Kan Wan works good for mild attacks (when I get the itchy eyes) but again, I wouldn't give it to a pet.

    Bob

  5. #5
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    I also was told that keeping the temperature at 70 or below was helpful. Washing their bedding frequently in hot water has helped the most.

    I feel badly for you as well. It's so hard to control the environment especially when you can't even see dust mites. It's not like an invasion of ants or something.
    First treatment in 2007. Pioneering ever since.

    Barbara

  6. #6

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    I was allergic to fire ants, I went to 3 years of injections to fix that, and it got fixed. That was years ago.

    No you can't see the mites, and as a musician, I play in a lot of places that have dust mites. They are kept clean, but with carpets and/or drapery, they have places to live (we don't do dives).

    I bring Pe Min Kan Wan to the gigs (Plum Flower Brand). This brand was recommended to me to try by a doctor as an alternative to the Dimetapp, but not to abandon the Dimetapp if things get bad. It's a mix of Chinese herbs.

    It seems to work best if I take it as soon as my tear ducts get itchy. The dust mites have irritated the eyes since I was a kid. It takes about a half hour, and the itching stops. That's a sign that it's working.

    It's been years since I got the correct diagnosis, and I haven't had another 'attack' so I'm happy that at least the ears aren't getting any worse. I don't even go for the Dimetapp once a year now.

    The ENT said the bedroom is the most dangerous place because we lay with our face down on the bedding for hours. So that's the most protected room, the one with the dehumidifier (Florida is humid). I keep the room at about 35-40% relative humidity.

    Tomorrow we get to play outdoors. It's our favorite gig of the week. The regular customers are like family to us (this is our sixth year). So life is good!

    Bob

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