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Tinnitus study signals advance in understanding link between loud sounds exposure and hearing loss
Date:2/14/2014

A research team investigating tinnitus, from the University of Leicester, has revealed new insights into the link between the exposure to loud sounds and hearing loss.

Their study, published this week in Neuroscience, helps to understand how damage to myelin a protection sheet around cells - alters the transmission of auditory signals occurring during hearing loss.

The three-year study was derived from a PhD studentship funded by Action on Hearing Loss. It was led by Dr Martine Hamann, Lecturer in Neurosciences at the University's Department of Cell Physiology and Pharmacology.

Dr Hamann said: "A previous publication has shown that exposure to loud sound damages the myelin which is the protection sheet around cells. We have now shown the closer links between a deficit in the "myelin" sheath surrounding the auditory nerve and hearing loss. It becomes obvious why hearing loss is correlated with auditory signals failing to get transmitted along the auditory nerve.

"Understanding cellular mechanisms behind hearing loss and tinnitus allows for developing strategies to prevent or alleviate the symptoms of deafness or tinnitus - for example by using specific drug therapies.

"This new study is particularly important because it allows us to understand the pathway from exposure to loud sound leading to the hearing loss. We now have a better idea about the mechanisms behind the auditory signals failing to get transmitted accurately from the cochlea to the brain. Consequently, targeting myelin and promoting its repair after exposure to loud sound could be proven effective in noise induced hearing loss."

Dr Hamann added that getting to dissect the cellular mechanisms underlying hearing loss is likely to bring a very significant healthcare benefit to a wide population.

She said: "Understanding mechanisms responsible for hearing loss represents a significant unmet need that is likely to increase as the i
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Contact: Martine Hamann, Ph.D.
mh86@le.ac.uk
University of Leicester
Source:Eurekalert

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