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A new treatment for hearing loss

A new genetic study in mice has identified two proteins that help organize the development of the hair cells that pick up sound waves in the inner ear. These hair cells are a major player in hearing loss, and knowing more about how they develop will help us figure out ways to replace hair cells that are damaged. The production of hair cells in the cochlea during embryo development is a highly organized and intricate process involving precise timing and location. Although scientists have uncovered much about hair cell formation, the molecular signals that control the "precise cellular patterning" have remained unclear. Scientists investigated signaling proteins that play a role in hair cell formation in the developing cochlea. Two of the proteins that the researchers investigated caught their attention: Activin A and follistatin. “The action of Activin A and follistatin is so precisely timed during development that any disturbance can negatively affect the organization of the cochlea.", says Angelika Doetzlhofer, Ph.D. Doetzlhofer suggests that the findings could lead to new treatments for restoring hearing that becomes impaired due to the loss of hair cells. (Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com)

Smartphone-controlled device could deliver drugs into the brain

An international research team has designed a wireless, smartphone-controlled device that is able to deliver drugs straight into the brain. It can also stimulate brain cells using light. So far, the scientists have tested this device in mice. The novel device, which the researchers call "wireless optofluidic brain probes," is easily controllable using smartphone technology. "The wireless neural device enables chronic chemical and optical neuromodulation that has never been achieved before," says lead study author Raza Qazi. The team wanted to design a device that was easier to use and longer lived than existing probe models. Existing models tend to rely on rigid metal tubes and optical fibers when it comes to delivering stimuli or drugs to the brain. Old fashioned probes are cumbersome, and they can also cause brain legions due to their rigidity. Also, they can only deliver a limited quantity of drugs into the brain. This revolutionary device is the fruit of advanced electronics design and powerful micro and nanoscale engineering." Says, study co-author Prof. Jae-Woong Jeong.

(Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com)