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Volume 15 Issue 10

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  • Larry M Sivertson
    HOH-LD-News Vol. XV, Issue 10 June 7, 2003 Copyright (C) 2003 Hearing Loss Web. All rights reserved. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Table of Contents ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ -
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 7, 2003
      Vol. XV, Issue 10
      June 7, 2003

      Copyright (C) 2003 Hearing Loss Web. All rights reserved.

      Table of Contents

      - Breakthrough in Hair Cell Regeneration?
      - Analog CI Superior to Digital CI?
      - NBA Noise Causes Temporary Hearing Loss
      - NCRA Survey: Offer Your Thoughts on CART and Captioning
      - Classifieds
      - Contact Information and Disclaimers

      Contact information and disclaimers are at the end of this

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      - Breakthrough in Hair Cell Regeneration?

      Editor: An animal's ability to regenerate damaged or destroyed
      auditory hair cells seems to be the key to restoring lost
      hearing. Some birds routinely generate these cells, while
      scientists have never seen it happen in mammals - until now.
      Scientists at the University of Michigan have used gene therapy
      to grow new auditory hair cells in adult guinea pigs. This
      doesn't mean that you can visit your doctor for this treatment
      next week, but it is a major milestone on the road to new
      treatments for hearing loss.

      Here's the story from EurekAlert, DC - May 31, 2003

      BTW, we've been following the hair cell regeneration story for
      quite some time. For some history, have a look at:


      Contact: Sally Pobojewski
      University of Michigan Health System

      Gene therapy grows new auditory hair cells in mammals

      ANN ARBOR, MI - University of Michigan scientists have used gene
      therapy to grow new auditory hair cells in adult guinea pigs - a
      discovery that could lead to new treatments for human deafness
      and age-related hearing loss.

      Healthy hair cells are vital to the ability to hear, but aging,
      infection, certain medications and exposure to loud noises can
      damage or destroy hair cells causing sensorineural hearing loss
      - a condition affecting over 30 million Americans. Since the
      discovery, in the late 1980s, that birds can spontaneously
      regenerate damaged hair cells, scientists have been trying to
      find a way to induce the replacement of lost hair cells in

      U-M scientists have now accomplished this goal by inserting a
      gene called Math1 into non-sensory epithelial cells lining the
      inner ear. Results from the study will be published in the June
      1 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

      "We found that non-sensory epithelial cells in adult guinea pig
      cochlea can generate new sensory hair cells following the
      expression of Math1," says Yehoash Raphael, Ph.D., an associate
      professor of otolaryngology in the U-M Medical School, who
      directed the study. "We also found that some of these hair cells
      can attract the growth of new fibers from auditory neurons."

      In a normal ear, vibrations from sound waves striking the
      eardrum are transferred to fluid inside a snail-shaped bony
      organ called the cochlea, which is the auditory component of the
      inner ear. When cochlear fluid moves, it stimulates movement in
      thousands of tiny projections on hair cells lining the inside of
      the cochlea. Moving hair cells initiate electrical signals,
      which are picked up by auditory nerve fibers and carried to an
      area of the brain called the auditory cortex. If hair cells are
      damaged or missing, electrical signals are not generated and
      hearing is impaired.

      "During the embryonic stage of an animal's development, hair
      cells and supporting cells have a common origin. Cells that
      express Math1 are fated to become hair cells, while Math1
      expression is inhibited in the remaining non-sensory cells,"
      Raphael says.

      "After embryonic development, hair cell production ceases.
      Unlike other epithelial cells in the skin or gut, epithelia in
      the inner ear contain no stem cells, so there is no source for
      renewal," Raphael explains. "That's the main reason why hair
      cell loss is permanent. When we over-expressed Math1 in
      non-sensory cells of the mature cochlea, however, we found that
      it causes them to transdifferentiate or change their personality
      to become hair cells."

      "We knew that transdifferentiation of supporting cells was a
      major source of new hair cell development in birds," Raphael
      says. "But there was no proof it would work in mammals. We
      started gene therapy experiments in 1994 and it took us seven
      years to develop a successful method of introducing the gene
      into the non-sensory cochlear epithelium."

      Dr. Kohei Kawamoto, Ph.D., a former U-M research fellow who
      performed the laboratory experiments, used an adenovirus as a
      vector to deliver the Math1 gene to inner ear epithelial cells.
      Kawamoto injected the Math1 vector into inner ear fluid of 14
      adult guinea pigs. The same procedure, but without the transfer
      of the Math1 gene, was performed on 12 matched control animals.

      Thirty to 60 days after inoculation, U-M scientists used
      scanning electron microscopes to examine inner ears from both
      sets of animals. In experimental guinea pigs that received the
      Math1 gene, scientists found new hair cells growing in areas
      where hair cells are typically absent. No new hair cells were
      found in the control animals.

      "The inner ear is an ideal target for gene therapy, because it
      is closed - not sealed, but nicely isolated," Raphael says. "As
      long as the amount you inoculate is small, the spread to other
      organs is minimal, and the risk of systemic toxicity is almost

      Because the total amount of fluid in the inner ear of a guinea
      pig is so small, the mechanical impact of injecting the viral
      vector fluid into the cochlear fluid damaged some of the hair
      cells in experimental animals. "While this is a concern, we
      believe the micro-injection technology can be improved to
      prevent this mechanical trauma," Raphael says. "The human
      cochlea is larger than a guinea pig cochlea and may better
      tolerate the inoculation. Also, profoundly deaf human candidates
      for this gene transfer approach would likely have severe
      pre-existing hair cell loss to begin with, so the risk of
      mechanically-induced side effects would be somewhat less

      One of the most surprising results of the study was the
      discovery of long, slender nerve fibers growing toward some of
      the newly formed hair cells. "This suggests that these hair
      cells can provide signals to attract axons and that neurons can
      respond to these signals," Raphael says.

      In the next stage of research, Raphael will determine whether
      the guinea pig hair cells are functional and able to transmit
      sound signals to auditory neurons. He also plans to test the
      procedure in aging animals and in animals that are completely

      "This is just the beginning," Raphael says. "It is really just a
      proof of the principle to show that, with proper gene therapy,
      these non-sensory cells have the competence to become hair

      The research was funded by the National Institute on Deafness
      and Other Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of
      Health and supported by GenVec, Inc. GenVec provided its
      proprietary adenovector technology to deliver the atonal gene,
      Math1. Raphael was an occasional consultant to GenVec, but has
      no significant financial interest in the company.

      First author on the paper was Kohei Kawamoto, Ph.D., a former
      U-M research fellow who is now at Kansai Medical University in
      Osaka, Japan. Co-authors on the paper include Douglas E. Brough,
      Ph.D., director of vector sciences at GenVec, Inc.; Shin-Ichi
      Ishimoto, Ph.D., a former U-M research fellow; and Ryosei
      Minoda, Ph.D., a post-doctoral fellow in the U-M Medical School.


      Contact: Sally Pobojewski, pobo@... or 734-615-6912 Nicole
      Fawcett, nfawcett@... or 734-764-2220.

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      Go to http://www.nad.org and click on "Members Only Area."

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      - Analog CI Superior to Digital CI?

      Editor: OK, that's not quite accurate, but I bet it got your

      An MIT researcher has designed a cochlear implant (CI) that does
      virtually all of its processing in analog mode rather than
      digital. What this means is that it uses considerably less power
      than standard CIs that process in digital mode, and it appears
      to perform every bit as well as the digital versions.

      Here are a few excerpts from the New York Times story. For the
      complete story, point your browser to:


      WHAT'S NEXT Analog Over Digital? For a Better Ear Implant, Yes

      COCHLEAR implants that restore some hearing to the profoundly
      deaf have improved steadily over the past two decades. Although
      they are called implants, however, these systems still lie
      mainly outside the ear.

      Most of the apparatus - including the microphone, processor and
      batteries that transform speech into electrical signals passed
      on to electrodes embedded in the cochlea - is still typically
      worn behind the ear or in a shirt pocket. Researchers hope that
      one day the entire apparatus, which is designed to stimulate the
      auditory nerves of people who have lost or damaged cells in the
      cochlea, can be implanted in the body. But before that goal can
      be reached, cochlear implants will need to use far less power.
      Currently the batteries must be changed as often as every four

      Now a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      has devised a processor for cochlear implants that he says
      consumes only about half a milliwatt, one-tenth of the
      processing power of current devices. Such an acoustic processing
      chip, if proven to be effective, might be suitable for
      next-generation cochlear devices that are fully implanted.


      To save power, the new processor reverses the traditional
      pattern for chips used in cochlear implants: it does most of the
      work with analog circuits, not digital ones.

      "Most people digitize the signal immediately as it comes from
      the microphone," turning the information into bits that a
      digital signal processor then handles, Dr. Sarpeshkar said. "We
      did the opposite." The signal remains in analog form for most of
      the processing, including filtering the sound, and is digitized
      only at the last interface to drive the control circuitry of the


      The project was underwritten by industry sponsors, and Dr.
      Sarpeshkar expects the chip to be available commercially within
      two years.


      While Dr. Sarpeshkar's processor is based on analog circuits, it
      includes digital outputs so that it can be used with other parts
      of the system like the programming interface. Being able to
      reprogram the processor is crucial because each patient has
      different auditory needs that are translated into instructions
      to each electrode that stimulates a nerve ending in the cochlea.

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      - NBA Noise Causes Temporary Hearing Loss

      Editor: You're probably aware that concerts can cause temporary
      or even permanent hearing damage. Jackhammers, jet planes,
      personal audio devices are also known culprits. It looks like we
      need to add professional sporting events to that list.

      It seems that audience members at loud NBA games can experience
      temporary hearing loss. What do you suppose is happening to the
      players' hearing?

      Here are excerpts from a story in the Sebastion (FL) sun. The
      article is available at:


      Sacramento Kings fans may not want to hear this - or be able to
      - but NBA basketball games at Arco Arena can reach dangerous
      decibel levels, leaving ears ringing and even causing temporary
      hearing loss.

      A sampling of noise levels from 10 Kings games this season,
      including Game 3 of the Western Conference playoffs against the
      Dallas Mavericks, showed noise levels well above those for
      healthy hearing.

      On the bright side, any hearing damage resulting from a Kings
      game shouldn't last long, unless an Arco Arena visitor also
      regularly spends long hours drumming with a rock band or
      operating a jackhammer.

      "It gets loud enough at games to cause temporary changes in
      hearing," said David Sheaffer, a University of California,
      Davis, audiologist who - at The Sacramento Bee's request -
      measured Arco Arena sound levels and tested the hearing of five
      volunteers before and after the 10 games.

      The survey, which makes no claim to meeting scientific
      standards, showed the arena environment can become hostile to
      ears - especially when fans whistle, ring cowbells or unleash
      personal safety alarms.

      "If you sit in a section with lots of noisemakers, take some
      earplugs and you're a lot less likely to do damage," Sheaffer


      The design of Arco Arena makes the building an ideal sound
      chamber. The arena's vast concrete walls, intimate courtside
      seating and wooden floors that rumble when thousands of feet
      pound in unison combine to produce deafening noise.

      Any sound that exceeds 85 decibels - the typical roar after a
      steal by Kings guard Doug Christie - can damage hearing if a
      person is exposed to it for several hours. Only sounds above 140
      decibels can cause immediate and permanent damage.

      State law caps noise exposures for workers at 90 decibels over
      eight hours. Similarly, the NBA sets limits on arena sound
      system volumes, monitoring decibel levels at each game.

      "The system has not been taxed yet," said Wally Clark, president
      of Associated Sound, the company that installed Arco Arena's new
      amplification gear last year. "It could get so loud you could
      hurt people, and we don't want that to happen."

      Teams can be fined by the NBA if their public address system
      exceeds 95 decibels when the ball is out of play or 85 decibels
      when the action is under way.


      Witness the whistle of 42-year-old Jane Burgoon. The Kings fan
      and Roseville mother of four uses nothing but her fingers, but
      her shrill whistle can push the sound meter to a whopping 118
      decibels, louder than a car horn. And Burgoon doesn't hold back.

      During a game against the Indiana Pacers, Yin-Ping Li, a fan
      seated next to Burgoon, said, "I didn't want to tell you, Jane,
      but a couple of times you whistled, and I couldn't hear very
      well afterwards."

      Some fans stop at nothing to be heard above the roar. Dan
      Dowling of Davis brought a shrieking personal-safety alarm to a
      playoff game against the Utah Jazz.

      The hand-held alarm reached 120 decibels on the meter, loud as a
      jet engine. The retired commercial pilot protects his hearing
      with earplugs and brings extra plugs for anyone sitting near
      him. Yet the man seated in front of Dowling, bearing the brunt
      of the alarm, declined any ear protection.

      - NCRA Survey: Offer Your Thoughts on CART and Captioning

      As the demand for communication access services increases, more
      and more members of the National Court Reporters Association are
      providing CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) and
      captioning to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. In order
      to gain a better perspective on the needs of these individuals,
      NCRA is conducting research to determine how we can improve the
      services CART providers and captioners currently offer to people
      in need of communication access services.

      Please take a few minutes to complete the survey so that we can
      better meet your communication access needs in the future. The
      deadline for completing the survey is June 20, 2003.

      To take this short survey, go to:

      - Classifieds

      Two event ads appear in this issue. (Ads appear after this brief

      Deaf Worldwide Expo
      Las Vegas, NV
      Saturday, June 21

      CueSign Camp
      Gallaudet University, Washington DC
      July 6 - 11

      Deaf Worldwide Expo
      Las Vegas, NV
      Saturday, June 21

      Viva, Las Vegas! DWW Rolls Into Nevada

      For everyone and anyone interested in hard of hearing and
      deaf-oriented services and entertainment, check out a CAN'T MISS
      event taking place in America's most exciting city:

      The Deaf Worldwide EXPO series continues on Saturday, June 21st,
      2003. It has something for the wee ones, senior citizens and
      EVERYONE else in between. Improve on your networking and learn
      more about local and national showcases. Best of all is the
      convenience of the exposition in ONE location.

      Top sponsors including, MCI IP-Relay, Sprint, PYRAM.com, and
      DeafWireless Superstore, as well as promotional partners Capital
      D Magazine and the National Association of the Deaf will present
      premium exhibits. Discover what products and services are
      available in your region; numerous representatives from local
      businesses and services will participate.

      If that isn't enough, there will be live entertainment, displays
      of deaf artwork and concession stands. Special presentations
      include a live paint exhibition by famed artist Chuck Baird,
      "Raggedy Ann and Andy," a show by Mindy Moore and Theron Parker,
      and Sammy Ruiz's wonderful world of tricks. Kids can jump to
      their hearts' consent in an inflatable moonwalk or be creative
      in ASL storytelling.

      DWW EXPO will take place from 10AM-6PM on Saturday, June 21 at
      the Las Vegas Convention Center on 3150 Paradise Road in Las
      Vegas, NV 89109.

      Advance ticket sales taking place at www.DEAFTICKET.com now!
      At-door prices range from $8 to $15 depending on age (go to
      www.deafworldwide.com for details). Please contact Elvis Zornoza
      for details and booth requests via email Elvis@...
      or fax (416) 352-1341.

      CueSign Camp
      Gallaudet University, Washington DC
      July 6 - 11

      Get ready for CueSign Camp! July 6 - 11 at Gallaudet for deaf,
      hard-of-hearing and hearing adults, youth and children!

      CueSign Camp strives to provide equal knowledge of:
      - Cued Language and American Sign Language
      - both cultures, in order to achieve a well-rounded environment
      and the maximum potential academically and socially in the camp
      setting and beyond.

      Cued English classes in the morning; ASL classes in the
      afternoon, plus a general workshop mid-day. Recreation; dorm
      accommodations; meals included with lodging fee.

      Details at http://www.cuesigncamp.com

      - Contact Information and Disclaimers

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