Let’s hear it for science! As long as hearing loss — one of the most commonly reported chronic conditions — continues to affect millions of people around the globe, researchers aim to leave no stone unturned in investigating treatment innovations and a future cure.
Various individuals and organizations worldwide are putting forth funding, expertise, and dedication toward uncovering more answers and improving quality of life for people living with hearing challenges. Take a look at these three exciting developments:
Professor Xue Zhong Liu, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Department of Otolaryngology, won a $3 million grant last summer from the National Institutes of Health toward continued research on hearing-loss-related biological treatments and clinical diagnosis. Per a university news release, the professor and his team will use the award to “expand their comprehensive genomic and phenotypic deafness database for clinical care of deaf individuals, identify and characterize novel genes for hearing loss using state-of-the-art genomic tools, assess the impacts of genomic testing on patients, and conduct preclinical studies of gene- and cell-based therapy approach of CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing to treat hearing loss.” We’re looking forward to seeing the outcomes of this initiative.
In a collaboration among the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research, and the Department of Defense Hearing Center of Excellence, researchers aim to uncover the potential long-term effects of both excess noise exposure — one of the most common and preventable causes of hearing loss — and certain chemicals on active-duty personnel and veterans. The Noise Outcomes in Servicemembers Epidemiology or NOISE study will follow participants for some 20 or more years, collecting and analyzing data on hearing and tinnitus issues and other changes. Data collection has already begun in connection with the more than 600 people who have enrolled in the study thus far.
Speaking of “tinnitus,” a common and sometimes debilitating issue often associated with hearing loss and typically involving ringing, buzzing, or other perceived noise in the ears: Students also play an important role in uncovering the mysteries and developing new treatments for this manageable but not-yet-curable problem. The British Tinnitus Association in partnership with Tinnitus Hub, for example, offered a student research grant last fall through its Daniel Ballinger Memorial Fund. The award may seem relatively small — 4,500 British pounds (about $5,865) — but it contributes to the global hunt for more answers about tinnitus and tinnitus-related disorders, expanded treatment options, and a cure.
When it comes to understanding even more about hearing loss and tinnitus, scientists continue making headway, but remember: Help is available today! If you or a loved one is experiencing changes in hearing or it’s been a while since your last evaluation, contact our hearing care team to schedule a checkup now!