Molecule May Repair Ear Hair Cells, Neurons In an in-lab study, scientists demonstrated a new way to repair damaged nerves and cells inside the ear—possibly overcoming the challenge of local delivery of drugs to the inner ear. Researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) and Harvard University hope their findings of a new drug-delivery approach could ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   July 01, 2018
Molecule May Repair Ear Hair Cells, Neurons
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Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   July 01, 2018
Molecule May Repair Ear Hair Cells, Neurons
The ASHA Leader, July 2018, Vol. 23, 13. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB2.23072018.13
The ASHA Leader, July 2018, Vol. 23, 13. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB2.23072018.13
In an in-lab study, scientists demonstrated a new way to repair damaged nerves and cells inside the ear—possibly overcoming the challenge of local delivery of drugs to the inner ear.
Researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) and Harvard University hope their findings of a new drug-delivery approach could one day be used to reverse hearing loss in humans.

Neurons responded to the molecule and regenerated synapses in the ear tissue that led to repair of the hair cells and neurons.

Published in Bioconjugate Chemistry, the study involved mice tissues in petri dishes, not live animals or humans. The researchers first mimicked a protein critical for development and function of the nervous system, and then combined it with bisphosphonate (a drug that sticks to bone mineral, including cochlear bone).
Neurons responded to the molecule and regenerated synapses in the ear tissue that led to repair of the hair cells and neurons.
“We’re not saying it’s a cure for hearing loss,” says Charles E. McKenna, a corresponding author for the study and chemistry professor at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “It’s a proof of principle for a new approach that’s extremely promising. It’s an important step that offers a lot of hope.”
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July 2018
Volume 23, Issue 7