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Clinical application of neurotrophic factors: the potential for primary auditory neuron protection

Authors

  • Lisa N. Gillespie,

    1. The Bionic Ear Institute, 384 Albert Street, East Melbourne, Australia 3002
    2. Department of Otolaryngology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia 3052
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  • Robert K. Shepherd

    1. The Bionic Ear Institute, 384 Albert Street, East Melbourne, Australia 3002
    2. Department of Otolaryngology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia 3052
    3. Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, East Melbourne, Australia 3002
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  • *

    Present address: Department of Otolaryngology, 2nd Floor, Eye and Ear Hospital, East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 3002.

Lisa Gillespie, at *present address below.
E-mail: lgillespie@bionicear.org

Abstract

Sensorineural hearing loss, as a result of damage to or destruction of the sensory epithelia within the cochlea, is a common cause of deafness. The subsequent degeneration of the neural elements within the inner ear may impinge upon the efficacy of the cochlear implant. Experimental studies have demonstrated that neurotrophic factors can prevent this degeneration in animal models of deafness, and can even provide functional benefits. Neurotrophic factor therapy may therefore provide similar protective effects in humans, resulting in improved speech perception outcomes among cochlear implant patients. There are, however, numerous issues pertaining to delivery techniques and treatment regimes that need to be addressed prior to any clinical application. This review considers these issues in view of the potential therapeutic application of neurotrophic factors within the auditory system.

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