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New Lab Research May Help Those Deafened By Immune System Attack

-M for years," says senior author Thomas Carey, Ph.D., a professor and distinguished research scientist at the U-M Medical School and department chair in the School of Dentistry. "The results strongly suggest that a direct test for antibodies could accurately predict which patients will regain hearing with steroid treatment." Such a test, he notes, is still several years away from being available to patients.

The new findings also may be important to people with systemic autoimmune disorders such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Such people may be prone to losing all or part of their hearing due to an overzealous autoimmune reaction. All eight study participants who had systemic autoimmune diseases showed signs of antibodies against IESCA. Six of them regained hearing after steroid treatment.

U-M researchers have been studying IESCA for several years in animals and have found that it may be a main target of the immune system's deafening attack on the inner ear. IESCA is found in the supporting cells that help make up the organ of Corti, a tiny but crucial structure inside the cochlea, or inner ear.

Inside the organ of Corti are the ultra-sensitive hair cells, whose movement in response to vibrations creates the nerve signals that are fed to the brain and interpreted as sounds and speech. Damage to the organ of Corti and hair cells, whether due to immune system attack, loud noise, trauma or medications, can diminish or destroy hearing.

The U-M team has developed a monoclonal antibody, called KHRI-3, that attaches to IESCA in the inner ear, and can be detected in living animal systems and cell cultures. It has allowed them to study IESCA's role in hearing loss in animal models, and show that damage to the inner ear caused by antibodies to IESCA can destroy hearing. The KHRI-3 antibody creates a staining pattern that resembles a line of tiny wine glasses when it binds to IESCA in the organs of Corti of guinea pigs.

The U-M has p
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Source:University of Michigan Health System


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