Audiology in Brief Researchers at the University of Florida (UF) received $156,000 in grants to develop software to help make the process of fine-tuning a cochlear implant for optimal hearing more efficient and accurate. The grant will allow UF investigators and research partners at Audigence Inc. to test cochlear implant optimization software ... News in Brief
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News in Brief  |   November 01, 2008
Audiology in Brief
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Hearing Disorders / Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / News in Brief
News in Brief   |   November 01, 2008
Audiology in Brief
The ASHA Leader, November 2008, Vol. 13, 5. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB.13162008.5
The ASHA Leader, November 2008, Vol. 13, 5. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB.13162008.5
New Cochlear Implant Software
Researchers at the University of Florida (UF) received $156,000 in grants to develop software to help make the process of fine-tuning a cochlear implant for optimal hearing more efficient and accurate.
The grant will allow UF investigators and research partners at Audigence Inc. to test cochlear implant optimization software they developed in a group of 120 individuals who have received cochlear implants or use hearing aids.
UF investigators, led by audiologist Alice Holmes, received a $78,000 grant from Audigence and a matching grant from UF’s Florida High Tech Corridor Council.
The new software program, known as Clarujust, offers the first standard analytical approach to programming cochlear implants. It tests hearing using actual speech sounds, not the tones used in traditional programming. The software program quickly analyzes the patient’s speech comprehension to determine the best cochlear implant settings. The new study will evaluate and refine the optimization procedure for cochlear implants and research techniques to improve speech intelligibility for users of digital hearing aids.
At-Risk Newborns Less Likely to Be Screened
A new study of Colorado birth records shows that infants with low Apgar scores—the widely used measure of newborn health—are 10 times less likely to receive an initial hearing screening than babies with normal Apgars. Low-weight babies also are four times more likely to go untested. In both cases, these babies are at greater risk for hearing loss.
The study in the December issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine analyzed more than 200,000 birth records from January 2002 to December 2004. A day or so after birth, 98% of the infants received hearing screening, but the 2% who did not receive screening were likely to need it most. Moreover, of those who had a positive test—indicating possible hearing loss—18% did not receive timely follow-up, which is a function of individual hospitals’ outreach programs.
Study co-author Vickie Thomson, director of newborn screening programs at the Department of Public Health and Environment, said that her experience as an audiologist leads her to conclude that many small or low-Apgar babies could be too involved in other procedures or discharged too soon for clinicians to perform the test.
Researchers Regrow Cochlear Hair Cells
Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University have used gene therapy to regrow cochlear hair cells in mice, a process that may lead to new ways of restoring hearing loss in humans, according to the August 2008 issue of Nature.
John Brigande and colleagues introduced a gene, Atoh1, into the inner ear of a normal-hearing mouse embryo and coaxed nonsensory cells to become hair cells.
“Our work shows that it is possible to produce functional auditory hair cells in the mammalian cochlea,” Brigande said. “It remains to be determined whether gene transfer into a deaf mouse will lead to the production of healthy cells that enable hearing.”
Gene transfer to a deaf mouse model will bring challenges. The researchers developed the new cochlear hair cells from “supporting” cells that normally have a structural function. But when deafness occurs, these supporting cells disappear. Gene therapy would have to be done before the supporting cells are gone.
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November 2008
Volume 13, Issue 16