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New Learnings About the Hearing Protein

Wednesday, September 12, 2018 8:53:17 AM Australia/Melbourne

New Learnings About the Hearing ProteinWe’re getting all sorts of technical today, profiling a really exciting update in the science of audiology. The team at Hearlink is so passionate about the research that goes into solutions for hearing loss. It’s a giant portion of our mission to ensure that the lives of those impacted by hearing loss are as rich and as full as they’d like them to be. An important resource to support this is this particular blog! If you’re joining us for the first time, we welcome you. You can consider this area of the site a great place to go if you have any questions or are simply looking to learn more about the world of audiology. We love all of the posts that we share here, but again – it’s always special to share updates like this one. Read on for more information about the newest protein in hearing.

 

This research comes straight from Harvard Medical School, where a team recently discovered that a protein referred to as TMC1 can actually support hearing and balance. Hearing and balance are far more intertwined than many believe; because they’re both connected by neuro signals within the brain. TMC1 converts head motion and sound into different electrical signals, so it plays an important role in both hearing and in balance.

 

We’ve always known that sensitivity to sound can be powerful and in fact debilitating for some who are impacted. We know that there are tiny cells inside the inner ear whose role is to detect sound and movement. The location is difficult to access and there are fewer hair cells are fewer than you may anticipate. There are more than 100 million sensory cells found in the human retina. By comparison, there are just 16,000 hair cells. The stimuli are then converted into nerve signals, but what is the story behind the biochemical messages that are produced? The questions still remain as far as the different mechanisms that the molecules are affected by that in turn have a positive or negative effect on your hearing. This is largely due to the small number of cells and their inaccessibility, as these factors limit the possibilities of retrieving and analysing.

 

So, what is the key role that this protein plays? Medical scientist at Harvard, David Corey, says that, “the search for this sensor protein has led to numerous dead ends, but we think this discovery ends the quest.” TMC1 is confirmed as a critical “gatekeeper” when it comes to proteins that can create small pores that respond to sound by opening and closing. This helps control ions like potassium and iron and communicate with nerve cells in the brain.

 

This is just a high-level introduction to this body of work. If you’re looking to check out the study in its entirety, it was published just a few weeks back in the Neuron journal.

 

Questions? Comments? Let us know. The Hearlink team would love to hear from you.

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Hearlink Admin