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Biotech Medicine Science

Implant Injects DNA Into Ear, Improves Hearing 34

Posted by Soulskill
from the assimilating-individual-organs dept.
sciencehabit writes "Many people with profound hearing loss have been helped by devices called cochlear implants, but their hearing is still far from perfect. They often have trouble distinguishing different musical pitches, for example, or hearing a conversation in a noisy room. Now, researchers have found a clever way of using cochlear implants to deliver new genes into the ear — a therapy that, in guinea pigs, dramatically improves hearing (abstract)."
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Implant Injects DNA Into Ear, Improves Hearing

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  • by lophophore (4087) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @05:34PM (#46828397) Homepage

    This is an article about "hearing loss." Much hearing loss is preventable.

    Use hearing protection now.

    Use hearing protection when running your leaf blower, weed whacker, power sander, lawn mower, and especially when making like a war-mongering imperialist at the shooting range. Use hi-fi hearing protection at rock concerts and loud clubs.

    Once your hearing is damaged, it is not recoverable, unless you become The Bionic Woman -- and for about 50% of us, that is pretty much completely impossible.

    Hearing protection is cheap. I like the Etymotic ER20 for rock concerts. Maybe I look silly wearing them. But... I can still hear after the show. I really don't care if people think I look silly. I've been to some literally deafening rock concerts, and my ears have suffered for it... Now I always bring (and wear!) my ear plugs to shows, And I use hearing protection when running noisy power equipment.

  • by umafuckit (2980809) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @06:24PM (#46828715)
    A cochlear implant is not a "hearing aid", which is a microphone and speaker inside the ear canal. A hearing aid is basically a modern ear trumpet, because it drives the cochlear with sound waves via the ear drum. A cochlear implant, on the other hand, is a neural prosthesis. Electrodes are surgically inserted into the cochlear and "sound" is delivered via direct electrical stimulation that drives the auditory sensory neurons. These devices allow people who would otherwise be 100% deaf to hear, assuming that their auditory nerve is intact and the innervation of the cochlear is still present. The problem, however, is that these implants have relatively few electrodes (of the order of 10 or so) and this results in a distorted picture of the world. Here are details with photos of the surgery [brown.edu].

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