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When the Noise Gets Too Loud, a Special Protein Helps Patch Up Inner Ear Damage

An auditory steriocilia bundle from normal (top) and from gamma-actin-deficient (bottom) mouse
An auditory steriocilia bundle from
normal (top) and from
gamma-actin-deficient (bottom) mouse
Credit: PNAS

Excessive exposure to loud noise can have a devastating effect on the sensory cells in your inner ear, causing the stereocilia—the normally upright filaments sprouting from their tops—to be sheared off at the tip, to droop like a dehydrated daffodil, or to be wiped out entirely, depending on the noise level. A new study of a knock-out animal model provides fresh insights into how noise damages the inner ear and how that damage can be repaired. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted by scientists from the NIDCD, the University of Minnesota, Michigan State University, the University of Kentucky, and Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, Neb. Read the announcement on the NIDCD Web site, or read the abstract on PubMed.gov.

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