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Scientists Discover Compound to Prevent Hearing Loss

by Alexandra Kilpatrick

From loud music to vehicles, noise constantly floods our ears. Scientists have now discovered which specific parts of our ears are damaged and how, as well as a compound that can prevent noise-related damage.

A protein found in vertebrates, pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF), is currently under research for treatment of heart disease and cancer. Scientists now believe that this compound could help prevent hearing damage.

“Noise-induced hearing loss, with accompanying tinnitus and sound hypersensitivity, is a common condition which leads to communication problems and social isolation,” Xiaorui Shi, one of the study’s researchers, commented in a news release. “The goal of our study is to understand the molecular mechanisms well enough to mitigate damage from exposure to loud sound.”

The Research

The study, published in The FASEB Journal, examined three groups of six to eight-week-old mice in order to better understand noise’s effect on hearing loss. The three groups included one control group, a group exposed to broadband noise at 120 decibels for three hours a day for two days and a group given single-dose injections of PEDF before exposure to the same amount of noise.

Researchers found that the cells that secrete PEDF in the control mice showed a characteristic branched morphology, with the cells arranging themselves in a self-avoidance pattern. Those mice exposed to wide-band noise showed clear differences in the cells’ morphology. Noise exposure specifically caused changes in melanocytes located in the inner ear.

“Hearing loss over time robs people of their quality of life,” Gerald Weissmann, Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal, said in a news release. “It’s easy to say that we should avoid loud noises, but in reality, this is not always possible. Front-line soldiers or first responders do not have time to worry about long-term effects of loud noise when they are giving their all. If, however, a drug could be developed to minimize the negative effects of loud noises, it would benefit one and all.”

A Hearing Loss Drug?

The researchers’ findings could lead to the creation of a drug, including PEDF, that prevents noise-related hearing loss. While PEDF appears promising, scientists will need to conduct more research before beginning development.

Want to learn more about hearing loss treatments while you’re waiting for a tried-and-true hearing loss drug? Schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today! Stay tuned to FindHearingAids.com to learn more about this amazing story in the coming months!

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