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Columbia University Studying Gene Therapy for Hearing Loss

Over the past forty years the greatest joy of our business is providing the gift of better hearing. Difficulty hearing is one of the most common conditions among older adults. Many people make lifestyle adjustments rather than seek help. With the new advances in technology now is an ideal time to consider an evaluation. At Hopco Hearing Center, we have made a commitment to professional service, quality products and low prices. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

Choice - There are over 200 manufacturers we can service. Everyone's hearing loss and lifestyle is different... So we offer a wide variety.

Follow-up - All aids come with a 60 day trial... We see you weekly during this time to assure your adjustments and the aids adjustment are satisfactory.

Continued Education - Every year we attend conventions and manufacturer seminars to keep up the latest fitting news and technology. We are members of nationally accredited American Speech and Hearing Association, American Academy of Audiologists and the International Hearing Society.

The Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery at Columbia University is one of three centers in the world conducting a clinical trial in which cellular regeneration is being used to treat hearing loss. Most causes of hearing loss are due to the death of so-called inner ear hair cells. These hair cells (named because they have tiny endings that look like hairs) detect sound waves and then send this information on to the brain. As a person's inner ear loses hair cells—due to aging or certain genetic conditions—he or she loses hearing.

The study involves an investigational drug containing a gene that has been shown to produce hair cells in pre-clinical trials. Currently, the only way to treat severe-to-profound hearing loss due to death of hair cells is through cochlear implantation. However, in the future, some forms of hearing loss may be treated by biologic regeneration of the damaged inner ear cells.

"This is the first gene therapy trial ever performed in the ear, and is so exciting on many levels."

 "We hope that the treatment will one day allow doctors to regrow the critical hair cells that are involved in hearing, possibly even supplanting the need for hearing aids and cochlear implants", added Dr. Lawrence Lustig, Chair of the Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery.

Hair cell regeneration studies are also being conducted at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Kansas.

Article originally appeared on Columbia University