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J Commun Disord. 2010 Jul-Aug;43(4):295-310. doi: 10.1016/j.jcomdis.2010.04.001. Epub 2010 Apr 8.

Future approaches for inner ear protection and repair.

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Kresge Hearing Research Institute, Department of Otolaryngology, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5648, USA.


Health care professionals tending to patients with inner ear disease face inquiries about therapy options, including treatments that are being developed for future use but not yet available. The devastating outcome of sensorineural hearing loss, combined with the permanent nature of the symptoms, make these inquiries demanding and frequent. The vast information accessible online and the publicity for breakthroughs in research add to patient requests for access to advanced and innovative therapies, even before these are available for clinical use. This can sometimes be taxing on the health care provider who is in contact with the patients. Here we aim to equip the provider with information about some of the progress made for protective and reparative approaches for treating inner ears.


(1) Readers will be able to explain why hearing loss is irreversible and common, (2) readers will be able to explain the importance of protective measures and the progress made in discovery and design of novel biological protective molecules, (3) readers will be able to describe reparative approaches currently under investigation (such as tissue engineering), the main difficulties in the design of such therapies and the major hurdles that remain for making novel technologies clinically viable, and (4) readers will be able to explain to their patients some of the progress in developing new treatments without making the promise of imminent clinical use. With this information, readers will be able to guide patients to make better choices for their treatment and to guide students toward research in this exciting field.

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