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An estimated 466 million people suffer from hearing loss worldwide. Sensorineural hearing loss is characterized by degeneration of key structures of the sensory pathway in the cochlea such as the sensory hair cells, the primary auditory neurons and their synaptic connection to the hair cells - the ribbon synapse. Various strategies to protect or regenerate these sensory cells and structures are the subject of intensive research. Yet despite recent advances in our understandings of the capacity of the cochlea for repair and regeneration there are currently no pharmacological or biological interventions for hearing loss. Current research focusses on localized cochlear drug, gene and cell-based therapies. One of the more promising drug-based therapies is based on neurotrophic factors for the repair of the ribbon synapse after noise exposure, as well as preventing loss of primary auditory neurons and regrowth of the auditory neuron fibers after severe hearing loss. Drug therapy delivery technologies are being employed to address the specific needs of neurotrophin and other therapies for hearing loss that include the need for high doses, long-term delivery, localised or cell-specific targeting and techniques for their safe and efficacious delivery to the cochlea. Novel biomaterials are enabling high payloads of drugs to be administered to the cochlea with subsequent slow-release properties that are proving to be beneficial for treating hearing loss. In parallel, new gene therapy technologies are addressing the need for cell specificity and high efficacy for the treatment of both genetic and acquired hearing loss with promising reports of hearing recovery. Some biomaterials and cell therapies are being used in conjunction with the cochlear implant ensuring therapeutic benefit to the primary neurons during electrical stimulation. This review will introduce the auditory system, hearing loss and the potential for repair and regeneration in the cochlea. Drug delivery to the cochlea will then be reviewed, with a focus on new biomaterials, gene therapy technologies, cell therapy and the use of the cochlear implant as a vehicle for drug delivery. With the current pre-clinical research effort into therapies for hearing loss, including clinical trials for gene therapy, the future for the treatment for hearing loss is looking bright.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Pharmacology & therapeutics
Adult-onset hearing loss is very common, but we know little about the underlying molecular pathogenesis impeding the development of therapies. We took a genetic approach to identify new molecules invo...
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Hearing loss due to exposure to explosive loud noise or chronic exposure to sound level greater than 85 dB. The hearing loss is often in the frequency range 4000-6000 hertz.
Hearing loss due to disease of the AUDITORY PATHWAYS (in the CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM) which originate in the COCHLEAR NUCLEI of the PONS and then ascend bilaterally to the MIDBRAIN, the THALAMUS, and then the AUDITORY CORTEX in the TEMPORAL LOBE. Bilateral lesions of the auditory pathways are usually required to cause central hearing loss. Cortical deafness refers to loss of hearing due to bilateral auditory cortex lesions. Unilateral BRAIN STEM lesions involving the cochlear nuclei may result in unilateral hearing loss.
Hearing loss due to damage or impairment of both the conductive elements (HEARING LOSS, CONDUCTIVE) and the sensorineural elements (HEARING LOSS, SENSORINEURAL) of the ear.
Hearing loss without a physical basis. Often observed in patients with psychological or behavioral disorders.
Hearing loss in frequencies above 1000 hertz.
Hearing, auditory perception, or audition is the ability to perceive sound by detecting vibrations, changes in the pressure of the surrounding medium through time, through an organ such as the ear. Sound may be heard through solid, liquid, or gaseous mat...
Biological therapy involves the use of living organisms, substances derived from living organisms, or laboratory-produced versions of such substances to treat disease. Some biological therapies for cancer use vaccines or bacteria to stimulate the body&rs...
Clinical Approvals Clinical Trials Drug Approvals Drug Delivery Drug Discovery Generics Drugs Prescription Drugs In the fields of medicine, biotechnology and pharmacology, drug discovery is the process by which drugs are dis...