You may have heard about the Hearing Health Foundation, but are you aware of the contributions it makes towards the field of hearing wellness? Learn more about the Hearing Health Foundation’s latest research in this week’s Audicus blog!
Hearing Health Foundation
The Hearing Health Foundation donates more funds for hearing loss research than any other private foundation. Over the past 30 years the Hearing Health Foundation has donated millions of dollars towards research on hearing loss and tinnitus.
Collette Ramsey Baker created the Hearing Health Foundation (originally known as the Deafness Research Foundation) in 1958. Baker herself experienced hearing loss for several years and helped to increase funding for hearing aid technology and treatment.
The Hearing Health Foundation publishes free magazines related to hearing loss research, products and technology. The foundation also has a health blog that includes articles regarding hearing loss and tinnitus. Individuals interested in supporting their cause can join an email list, subscribe to their magazine, donate, fundraise, or follow them on Facebook or twitter.
Visiting their website will put you into contact with a useful set of information regarding newborn hearing screenings, resources for veterans, and statistics for both hearing loss and tinnitus.
In addition to creating a network of philanthropists to aid in the hearing loss mission and developing a community where individuals can share their firsthand experiences with hearing loss, the Hearing Health Foundation has also made recent strides in research regarding the betterment of hearing health.
Hearing Loss Research
The Hearing Health Restoration Project, a program funded by the Hearing Health Foundation, has released research on how to regenerate hair cells found in the inner ears of humans. The hair cells are sensory cells that result in hearing loss when they are destroyed.
These special hairs are grown in many animal species, yet humans seem to lack this ability. However, by learning to modify a protein pathway called the Wnt signaling network, there is promise of success. This pathway is involved in the regeneration of hair cells in animals, and by modifying the pathway in humans after the pathway found in animal models, there is potential for future regeneration treatments in people.
The Wnt signaling network has three major pathways. Two of these pathways deal with cell fate, or what a cell will become, whether it is an ear cell, a brain cell or a blood cell. These two major pathways are very important because the organization and identity of cells in the inner ear are essential for an individual to possess healthy hearing.
Initially 84 genes related to Wnt signaling were analyzed for their levels of activity during the formation of ear cells in mice. Researchers found that of these 84 genes, there were 72 genes related to Wnt signaling that were active during the development and maturation of ear cells in mice.
With the continued awareness and funding from the Hearing Health Foundation, many individuals who suffer from hearing loss can hope to have new forms of treatment and therapy for the future.