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Author: admin, 23.03.2016
A new pill designed to combat both hearing loss and tinnitus is now being tested on patients for the first time. The first drug treatment for both conditions has been developed by scientists in the UK and acts on brain cells involved in the processing of sound.
Laboratory studies have shown that the drug has the potential to reduce symptoms of age-related hearing loss and tinnitus.
Around 50 per cent of men and women aged over 60 suffer from age-related hearing loss and 10 per cent of the population suffers from tinnitus. Age-related hearing loss occurs when hairs in the inner ear that normally pass on sound signals to the hearing nerve become damaged or die, so the nerve impulses relaying sound to the brain are reduced. Increasingly scientists believe that this form of hearing loss may also be linked to problems with nerve cells in the brain, too.

Although many people cope well with the symptoms, for around 1 per cent of the population it has a significant impact on their quality of life. Scientists have developed several treatments, from drugs affecting the central nervous system to electrical treatments and behavioural therapies, but the success has been limited. The new drug works on a protein called Kv3 that helps form pores on the surface of nerve cells in the area of the brain connected with hearing.
Now University College London Hospital and ten other hospitals in the UK are embarking on a clinical trial, recruiting around 150 patients, who will receive four daily pills, or a placebo, every day for four weeks.
Meanwhile, 100 patients with age-related hearing loss are taking part in a trial at the University of South Florida and other centres in the U.S. Hearing aids or cochlear implants can help some sufferers, but having implants requires surgery and hearing aids can be uncomfortable, increase the risk of infections and, even then, interpreting speech remains a challenge for some.

These pores allow potassium to enter the cells - the potassium is needed to help signals, such as hearing signals, pass between the nerve cells. This may cause patients difficulty in understanding speech and may be linked to tinnitus, too.
Studies at the Institute of Experimental Medicine in Prague show the drug, known as AUT00063, can improve hearing in older animals, while research at University College London and the University of Southern Illinois has found the drug can have a beneficial effect on tinnitus.

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