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Hearing class

Researchers identify molecularly distinct subtypes of neurons that encode sound

Caption These are spiral ganglion neuron projections (red and yellow) from an isolated portion of a mouse cochlea. Cell bodies of neurons and inner hair cells are in green.

A new study by Harvard Medical School researchers sheds light on the molecular repertoire of neurons responsible for encoding sound in the inner ear, which could inform efforts to develop therapeutic strategies to treat or protect against hearing loss.

Reporting in Cell on Aug. 2, a team led by Lisa Goodrich, professor of neurobiology at HMS, shows that the class of neurons responsible for transmitting information from the inner ear to the brain is composed of three molecularly distinct subtypes.

One of these subtypes is selectively lost in the inner ears of aging mice, and this molecular diversity does not emerge properly in a deaf-mouse model, according to the study.

"Our results enable new lines of research that can help us understand exactly how these neurons differ from each other and how these differences contribute to the sense of hearing, with additional implications for treating age-related and congenital hearing loss," said Goodrich, who is senior author on the study. Continue reading

Source:EurekAlert, August 2, 2018 (retrieved August 10, 2018)


‘Alzheimer’s in a dish’ model provides answers

System fully replicates Alzheimer’s pathology, including neural cell death

Building on their development of the first culture system to replicate fully the pathology behind Alzheimer’s disease, a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team has now produced a system that includes neuroinflammation, the key biological response that leads to the death of brain cells. The investigators describe their system, which incorporates the glial cells that that not only surround and support neurons but also provide some immune system functions, in a paper published in Nature Neuroscience.

“Our original ‘Alzheimer’s in a dish’ system recapitulated the plaques and tangles typically seen in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, but did not induce neuroinflammation,” says Rudolph Tanzi, director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit in the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease (MIND) and co-senior author of the current paper. “Studies have shown that we can have many plaques and tangles in our brains with no symptoms, but when neuroinflammation kicks in, exponentially more neurons die and cognitive impairment leading to dementia is induced. A complete model of Alzheimer’s pathology needs to incorporate that ‘third leg of the stool.’” Continue reading

Source: The Harvard Gazette, July 31, 2018


Can your ears predict your risk of this common killer?

In a 2017 study of 241 patients hospitalized for acute stroke, researchers found that over 78 percent of them had what is known as Frank’s sign. Frank’s sign, named after American physician Dr. Sanders T. Frank, is a diagonal crease in the earlobe that starts at the tragus and continues at a 45 degree angle.

Previous studies have shown that Frank’s sign could be a predictor of coronary artery disease. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, Frank’s sign could indicate premature aging and loss of skin elasticity. It may be more relevant in a younger population.

“Many times, these studies examine the patients after they have been diagnosed with a certain condition,” says Dr. James Vales, Advocate Medical Group physician at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. “I haven’t seen a thorough study that looks at the overall percentage of individuals who have ear creases which, from my experience in seeing patients, I would expect to be pretty high.”

Not knowing if there is a true correlation or not, Dr. Vales advises not to expect your physician to begin ordering cardiac tests after just a quick look at your ears.

That is not to say you shouldn’t ask your physician if you notice you have Frank’s sign or anything else that concerns you. You just don’t need to run away scared from the mirror.

Source: Advocate Health Care, Health eNews, August 2, 2018


Hearing the teacher is as important as seeing the board

Testing your child's hearing before school starts helps ensure their success. Poor hearing affects your child's

  • Grades — and as a result, self-esteem.
  • Speech development — children's speech is still developing during kindergarten years.
  • Social development — a child with a hearing problem struggles to interact with other children and their environment.

Before school starts get your child’s hearing tested. The benefits are priceless and so is your peace of mind.

To schedule an appointment, call 630-633-5060.

For office locations click here or give us a call.


Study: Intensive blood pressure control reduces risk of mild cognitive impairment

CHICAGO, July 25, 2018 - Significant reductions in the risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI)*, and the combination of MCI and dementia**, have been shown for the first time through aggressive lowering of systolic blood pressure in new research results from the federally-funded SPRINT MIND Study reported at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) 2018 in Chicago.

"This is the first randomized clinical trial to demonstrate a reduction in new cases of MCI alone and the combined risk of MCI plus all-cause dementia," said Jeff D. Williamson, MD, MHS, Professor of Internal Medicine and Epidemiology and Chief, Section on Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine. Williamson reported these results at AAIC 2018.

The results of this large-scale, long-term clinical trial provide the strongest evidence to date about reducing risk of MCI and dementia through the treatment of high blood pressure, which is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease worldwide. Continue reading

Source: EurekAlert, July 25, 2018