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Scientists Test New 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.

Approximately 25 percent of the United States population between ages 55 and 64 have some degree of hearing loss, according to the Mayo Clinic. About 2-3 of every 1,000 U.S. children are born with a detectable level of hearing loss, too.

There’s no single treatment or intervention that works for everyone, according to Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though hearing aids, cochlear implants and assistive listening devices are commonly used to improve conditions.

But research recently approved for publication in the European Journal of Neuroscience reveals there may be a possible new therapy that can repair hearing.

Scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center and Harvard Medical School’s Massachusetts Ear and Eye Infirmary tested a previous theory involving the epidermal growth factor (EGF), which is “responsible for activating support cells in the auditory organs of birds,” according to a news release about the study. “When triggered, these cells proliferate and foster the generation of new sensory hair cells.”

Most hearing loss occurs when either those sensory hair cells or auditory nerve cells are destroyed.

To test the theory, researchers investigated several methods to activate EGF signaling pathways, one of which involved using a virus to target ERBB2 receptors, found in cochlear support cells (or the inner ear).

Activating the ERBB2 pathway, they found, resulted in the generation of new cochlear support cells — and new sensory hair cells.

“The process of repairing hearing is a complex problem and requires a series of cellular events,” University of Rochester Medical Center researcher Patricia White said. “You have to regenerate sensory hair cells and these cells have to function properly and connect with the necessary network of neurons. This research demonstrates a signaling pathway that can be activated by different methods and could represent a new approach to cochlear regeneration and, ultimately, restoration of hearing.”

Authors also found evidence that activating the cochlea’s ERBB2 pathway may help sensory hair cells integrate with nerve cells. Cells in the cochlea help convert sound waves into neural signals, which are passed to the brain through the auditory nerve.

Article appeared on Atlanta Journal.