Help Kids Hear – A web site dedicated to helping parents of children that are deaf or hard of hearing.  The latest news, resources, articles, and discussions about hearing impaired children!
About Help Kids Hear Site Map Search Help Kids Hear Web Site News
A site for parents of hard of hearing & deaf children.
In the News - News articles about hearing impairment, new technologies, and other related materials.
Articles & Commentary - Our editorial section. Articles written by us and by professionals in the field.
Resources & Information - Our largest section. Dedicated to helping you find the information you need. Everything from educational information, sources financial support, mental health support and more!
Facts & Figures - A brief "stat sheet" with information about just how common hearing impairment is, particularly in children.
Discussion Forum - What we hope will be hallmark of our site. An open forum where you can read and post questions about hearing impairment across a wide variety of categories.
For the Kids - Links to and information just for the kids themselves.
Scientists Find Protein That May Be Key to Hearing
http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=healthNews&storyID=6491777

Wed Oct 13, 2004 02:13 PM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - A protein in the ear that converts sound into nerve impulses that are sent to the brain could be the long-sought key to understanding hearing and deafness, scientists said on Wednesday.

The discovery of the protein called TRPA1, by researchers in the United States, could also lead to better treatments for patients with hearing problems.

"People have been looking for this protein for a decade," said Professor David Corey, of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Boston.

TRPA1 is found on the tip of hair cells in the inner ear. It works by forming a donut-like channel in the cell membrane of inner ear hair cells which is thought to be at the center of the body's hearing mechanism.

"In the absence of sound, the hole is closed," said Jeffrey Holt, of the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville, who contributed to the research.

"But when sound strikes the protein, the hole pops open like a trap door, allowing potassium and calcium ions to flood into the cells. Because these elements carry a positive charge, an electrical signal is generated which is relayed to the brain for interpretation," he added.

The scientists suspect that some deaf patients may have a mutated form of the TRPA1 gene. They believe a correct copy of the gene to replace the mutated one could potentially restore hearing and balance to people with hereditary inner ear disorders.

The findings are reported online by the science journal Nature.

"This could allow for the development of new gene therapies for deafness and balance disorders in five to 10 years," Holt added.

More than 28 million people in United States alone are deaf or hard of hearing, according to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders.

Different TRP proteins are thought to be involved in seeing and hearing in insects. They are also linked to taste and heat sensation in some mammals.

© Reuters 2004. All Rights Reserved.

 
 

Help Kids Hear is a site dedicated to helping parents of deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children. We are parents of hard of hearing kids and simply want to "give back" to the community. We welcome your comments, questions & suggestions. Please drop us a note at info@helpkidshear.org.