We live in a world where breaking news is put in front of us 24/7 through print, email, text message, social media and on TV making it difficult to digest and discern all that is happening. To break through the clutter of news and help ease any news fatigue you may be experiencing, we at Empower have compiled a list of the top topics/stories that are trending in the hearing health industry for January 2021.
New Research Could Offer Relief for Millions Who Suffer from Tinnitus
Researchers from the University of Minnesota, Trinity College, St. James’s Hospital, University of Regensburg, University of Nottingham, and Neuromod Devices Limited of Ireland conducted the largest clinical trial of its kind. They discovered that combining sound and electrical stimulation of the tongue can significantly reduce tinnitus. Around 10 to 15% of the world’s population suffer from ringing in the ears. Of the 326 enrolled participants approximately 86% of treatment compliant participants reported an improvement in tinnitus symptom severity when evaluated after 12 weeks of treatment. Many found the effects were sustained up to 12 months post-treatment.
“Oticon More” Brings Brain Science to Hearing Aids
On Jan. 12, Oticon launched its latest hearing aid, Oticon More. Building on the company’s “BrainHearing” approach to provide the brain maximum input for better speech understanding with less effort for the wearer. Oticon More is the first hearing aid that is trained on more than 12 million real-life sounds allowing the device to deliver a full and balanced sound scene that makes the brain perform at its optimum capacity. The speech in noise is processed more like the human brain, resulting in an additional 15% increase in speech understanding.
Development of New Gene Therapy for Deafness
Scientists at Tel Aviv University led a study that presented a pioneering treatment for deafness, based on the delivery of genetic material into the cells of the inner ear. The genetic material “replaces” the genetic defect and enables the cells to continue functioning normally. The scientists maintain this therapy could lead to a breakthrough in treating children born with various mutations that eventually cause deafness.
An Antibiotic Linked with Hearing Loss Receives an Upgrade
Gentamicin is an antibiotic used in U.S. hospitals to treat a variety of bacterial infections. It’s also popular in developing nations because it’s highly effective and inexpensive. However, the highly effective antibiotic has a very serious side effect – hearing loss. Recently, scientists have discovered a new method of purifying gentamicin that reduces the risk of deafness.
Sonic Offers Next-Level Technology with Radiant Hearing Aid
On Jan. 12, Sonic also released a statement to introduce Radiant, their new hearing aid. Radiant is built on Sonic’s new “Extend” platform and offers more memory and greater processing power, which finds, filters and fine-tunes the sounds the wearers hear. The device also has new compression and noise management strategies that allow Radiant to deliver clear sounds and improved experience, even in noisy environments.
Akouos and Blueprint Genetics Announce New Genetic Testing Program for Auditory Neuropathy
On Jan. 11, precision genetic medicine company Akouos and Blueprint Genetics, a Quest Diagnostics company, launched their Resonate program. The program offers genetic testing to eligible individuals with auditory neuropathy at no cost to participants, their insurance or their healthcare providers. The Resonate program is available in the United States and plans to expand to additional geographic regions throughout 2021.
Midwest University Study Finds Cancer Drug’s Potential to Treat Hearing Loss
A study conducted by graduate students from Creighton University School of Medicine have found that Dabrafenib, a drug known for treating melanoma, small-cell lung carcinoma, and thyroid and biliary tract cancers has the potential to protect against or treat hearing loss. The drug is still in the animal testing phase of the study. If successful, the treatment would be available to the general population in three to five years.
Auditory Pathway Info May Be Representative of Prior Expectations
A team of neuroscientists presents new findings that show that the entire auditory pathway represents sounds according to prior expectations. For their study, the team used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain responses of 19 participants while they were listening to sequences of sounds. These results can be best interpreted in the context of predictive coding, a general theory of sensory processing that describes perception as a process of hypothesis testing. These new results open new ways for neuroscientists studying sensory processing in humans.
John Hopkins Receives $15 Million Donation
Philanthropist and Johns Hopkins Medicine trustee David M. Rubenstein has made a $15 million commitment to the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Johns Hopkins to support the department’s research. His donation will establish the David M. Rubenstein Precision Medicine Center of Excellence and will deepen his support for basic science researchers focused on the development of therapeutic approaches to preserve and restore hearing. Three strategic project teams, working in collaboration with researchers across Johns Hopkins University, will explore inner ear hair cell repair, sensory neuron repair, and nanomedicine drugs and drug delivery.
University of Texas Researchers Develop App to Aid People with Hearing Loss
University of Texas at Dallas researchers have developed smartphone-based apps that filter out background noise and improve speech perception. The researchers developed noise-filtering and speech-enhancement apps that use only the built-in microphones of a smartphone. The apps, which have been tested on both Android and iOS-based smartphones, also can be used with a hearing-assist device. The technology indicates where the noise is coming from so users can change the phone’s orientation to get better sound quality.