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Zebrafish holds hope for deafness

Washington: Loud noise is known to irreversibly damage hair cells within the inner ear of mammals and cause deafness, but the ability of zebrafish to regrow these cells holds hope, new research says.

Researchers from Western Kentucky University and the University of Louisville worked together to see which genes were switched on or off after acoustic trauma, according to the BMC journal Neuroscience.

Michael Smith, who led the study at Kentucky, is quoted by the journal as saying: "Understanding how fish are able to repair their hair cells may eventually help us to understand ear injury in people and provide treatments for hair cell loss."

The research showed that growth hormone is involved in this regeneration in zebrafish. "Injecting growth hormone into zebrafish stimulated cell proliferation in their inner ears," Smith says.

Two days after noise injury, inner ear cells were busy repairing and replacing damaged hair cells, according to a Kentucky statement. This repair was linked with the activity of 839 genes, which triggered a 64-fold increase in the expression of growth hormone.


First Published: Monday, September 05, 2011, 18:26