OHC: Amazing Proteins from Sea Anemones May Restore Hearing Loss.
We at the Oklahoma Hearing Center pride ourselves on knowing about the latest research and innovations in the field of hearing and hearing loss.
As such, we are so excited to share the fascinating research that is being done at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. We learned about this information from hearingreview.com based off an article from the University Journal, the Journal of Experimental Biology.
The recent discoveries from the University of Louisiana are based on the existing knowledge that sea anemones can split themselves in half as part of their reproductive cycle. After they divide themselves in half, they are able to rebuild their missing halves through incredible regenerative properties.
This fact as well as the knowledge that sea anemones can restore their hair cells on their tentacles when detecting passing prey triggered the connection for research scientist Glen Watson, PhD. He realized that that if sea anemones could do these things, that perhaps this would be the key to rescuing damaged cochlear hair cells in the hearing loss of humans. Scientists are currently experimenting with repairing damaged hair cells in the inner ears of mice to test out their theories.
What has been discovered so far is that there is a “cocktail” of proteins in the mucus coating of sea anemones’ bodies that allows them to repair injured hair cells in less than ten minutes! The research scientists are experimenting to see if these restorative proteins might be able to help with the repair of damaged cochlear cells of mice, and therefore, eventually human ear cells if this is a success.
A short summary of how this all works: Hair cells have a bundle of tiny hair-like structures on their surface called ‘stereocilia,’ which are tethered at their tips by protein strands in a V-shaped formation. According to the researchers on this project, the tethers break when hair cells are damaged, causing the stereocilia to collapse, and thus the loss of hearing as a result.
However, the researchers found that these hair cells recovered significantly after the repair proteins from the sea anemones had been added to the mouse cells. They found evidence that mice produce many proteins that are quite similar to the sea anemone ‘repair proteins,’ suggesting that it may be possible to utilize the same repair mechanisms in mammals with damaged hearing.
We at the Oklahoma Hearing Center hope that this discovery will eventually lead to a treatment for human patients with acute hearing loss—that is certainly the goal of the extensive research being done.
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Sources: Hearingreview.com and the Journal of Experimental Biology; University of Louisiana at Lafayette.