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New Ear Neurons Discovery Could Advance Hearing Therapies

New Ear Neurons Discovery Could Advance Hearing Therapies
A new discovery about ear neurons may help advance hearing therapies. (Piotr Marcinski/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Friday, 14 September 2018 07:02 AM

A new ear neuron discovery in the peripheral auditory system could pave the way for new therapies aimed at treating various hearing disorders, according to a study published in Nature Communications on Wednesday.

Newly discovered ear neurons in the peripheral auditory system could be the key to developing new therapies aimed at treating various hearing disorders, according to a study published in Nature Communications on Wednesday.

Sound reaching the inner ear is converted into electrical signals that are then relayed from the ear's nerve cells to the brain.

Until recently, scientists thought there were only two types of nerve cells: type 1 and type 2 neurons.

However, researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have discovered that the type 1 cells are actually made up of three different types of cells.

In a statement, research group leader François Lallemend explained that this proves there are three different routes into the central auditory system, not just one.

"This makes us better placed to understand the part played by the different neurons in hearing. We've also mapped out which genes are active in the individual cell types," he said.

When it comes to hearing, sonic intensity, or volume, is crucial during conversations in a loud environment.

These three neuron types may play a role in the function that allows for background noise to be filtered and which is important in various hearing disorders such as tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is the oversensitivity to sound.

These conditions may be acute and debilitating for thousands across the U.S.

The American Tinnitus Association refers to tinnitus as "the perception of sound when no actual external noise is present."

The condition affects more than 50 million Americans, including roughly 20 million who struggle with chronic tinnitus and 2 million who have extreme and debilitating cases.

Lallemend said once they established which neurons caused these hearing disorders, they could start investigating new therapies.

"The next step is to show what effect these individual nerve cells have on the auditory system, which can lead to the development of better auditory aids such as cochlear implants," Lallemend said.

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A new ear neuron discovery in the peripheral auditory system could pave the way for new therapies aimed at treating various hearing disorders.
new, ear, neurons, discovery
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2018-02-14
Friday, 14 September 2018 07:02 AM
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