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Genes that control cell death fingered in age-related hearing loss
Date:10/16/2008

familiar process to scientists who know that it also happens as part of the course of many diseases. For instance, after a stroke, many brain cells perceive a threat low oxygen and "jump ship," killing themselves and dramatically worsening the effects of the stroke.

The new research is the first demonstration that such activity also occurs in the aging inner ear. The work offers a potential new target as scientists work to find ways to stop age-related hearing loss, such as a drug that would stop cells from committing cell suicide as they age.

"The goal, of course, is to prevent and even reverse age-related hearing loss, which is the third most common chronic medical condition among the elderly," said Frisina, who also has appointments in the departments of Biomedical Engineering and Neurobiology and Anatomy. "Right now, there is nothing we can do to treat it or reverse it, so prevention is the focus."

Frisina advises avoiding exposure to loud noise wherever possible, and wearing ear protection when working with power tools or hunting, for example. Since many medications can damage hearing, patients should speak at length with their doctors about side effects before going on medications, particularly antibiotics, hormone therapy, and drugs that fight cancer. Since conditions like diabetes can also damage hearing, heed the timeless advice to eat right and exercise.


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Contact: Tom Rickey
tom_rickey@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-7954
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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