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Health Agencies Update
June 18, 2003

Long-term Care Shortage

JAMA. 2003;289(23):3080. doi:10.1001/jama.289.23.3080-a

New findings that gene therapy can regenerate auditory hair cells in guinea pigs offers encouragement about the potential for developing new treatments for hearing loss in humans. The work was reported in the June 1 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Loud noises, infections, aging, and certain medications can destroy hair cells and damage hearing. Some 30 million US residents have clinically significant hearing loss.

"Unlike . . . the skin or gut, the inner ear contains no stem cells," said Yehoush Raphael, PhD, of the University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor. "That's the main reason why hearing loss is permanent."

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