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Kansas State University: Research leads to successful restoration of hearing

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MANHATTAN — The sounds of success are ringing at Kansas State University through a research project that has potential to treat human deafness and loss of balance.

Philine Wangemann, university distinguished professor of anatomy and physiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and her international team have published the results of their study in the July issue of the journal PLOS Genetics: “SLC26A4Targeted to the Endolymphatic Sac Rescues Hearing and Balance in SLC26A4 Mutant Mice.”

“When the SLC26A4 gene is mutated, it leads to a loss of pendrin expression, which causes swelling of the inner ear and loss of hearing and balance,” Wangemann said. “In my research, I have been interested in how the inner ear functions. We worked on the idea that if you keep one domino in the chain standing, then the others would continue to stand and function normally. In other words, if we could restore the proper expression of pendrin in the endolymphatic sac and thereby prevent swelling of the sac, this may prevent swelling of other parts of the inner ear and rescue hearing and balance.”

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