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Mouse study insights on hearing loss

Model of ear

Researchers in the US have found that excess zinc in the ears of mice contributes to noise-induced hearing loss.

Hearing loss is a common issue, affecting 1 in 8 people in the US, with no ways of reversing the condition.

The team, led by Thanos Tzounopoulos at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, identified that loud noises can cause a surge in zinc levels in the ear cells of mice, which damage the inner ear cells leading to hearing loss.

Zinc is a mineral nutrient usually bound to proteins, but some are free floating in the human body with a higher concentration found in the inner ear, even without noise exposure.

In this study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that mice which were treated with a drug that can capture excess zinc, and then exposed to loud noises, were protected from hearing loss due to decreased levels of free floating zinc in their ear cells.

This finding will be followed by upcoming preclinical human trials, opening avenues for zinc-targeted treatments for hearing loss.


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