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ADVANCE/Gene Therapy & New Medications Will Soon Help Restore Lost Hearing: Noted Otolaryngologist.

Lifestyle and Medical Editors

ADVANCE...for release 6:00 p.m. July 6


Gene therapy and new medications will soon help restore lost hearing, predicts a noted otolaryngologist from the University of Rochester (NY) School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Robert Frisina, Jr., Ph.D., associate chairman of otolaryngology, states in the current (July/August) issue of Reader's Digest New Choices, "In the future, we'll have gene therapy that will stimulate the growth of both hair cells in the ears and cells in the brain related to hearing. Although I won't say how far down the road that is, it's only years away."

Loud noises can kill the delicate nerve endings in the inner ear called hair cells, notes the article. "The message from the ear to the brain gets distorted when you lose these hair cells," says Frisina. "In addition, as you grow older, normal changes occur in the network of nerves in the brain that process sound. Not only do some cells die, but certain brain chemicals diminish with age."

Frisina and his colleagues have studied substances called calcium regulators. He explains, "We've shown that changes in enzymes or proteins that regulate calcium in the parts of the brain used for hearing can lead to a calcium buildup, which can then kill these brain cells." The calcium you eat does not lead to a buildup in these cells, Frisina stresses in New Choices. "Rather, the systems that control buildup inside the nerve cells become disrupted." He believes researchers will eventually develop medications that will restore these depleted calcium regulators.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jul 6, 2000
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