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RESEARCH ROUNDUP

Hard of hearing?

Problems with the brain--not just the ears--cause a great deal of the age-related hearing loss in older people. The findings come from researchers at the International Center for Hearing and Speech Research, an NIH-funded group of scientists in Rochester that is recognized as a leader in research regarding age-related hearing loss. The center includes scientists from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology and neuroscientists from the University.

In addition to earlier findings of a specific type of "timing" problem that limits hearing, the group is now finding increasing evidence of a "feedback" problem in the brain that diminishes the ability to hear. The brain's ability to provide proper feedback to the ear, by filtering out unwanted and unnecessary information, begins to decline for most people when they reach their 40s and 50s, says Robert Frisina, professor of otolaryngology. Without that filter, a person is quickly overcome by a barrage of information that is difficult to sort. See www.urmc.rochester.edu/ pr/news/story.cfm?id=735

Gene therapy offers hope

Researchers have created a way to transform the dead bone of a transplanted skeletal graft into living tissue in an experiment involving mice. The advance, which uses gene therapy to stimulate the body into treating the foreign splint as living bone, is a promising development for the thousands of cancer and trauma patients each year who suffer with fragile and failing bone grafts. The findings appeared in the March 1 issue of Nature Medicine.

The procedure, designed by a team led by Edward Schwarz, associate professor of orthopedics and of microbiology and immunology, is intended to aid people with various cancers or injuries whose treatment involves the replacement of large sections of bone. See www.urmc.rochester.edu/pr/news/story.cfm?id=734

Plant agent attacks leukemia

A daisy-like plant known as Feverfew or Bachelor's Button, found in gardens across North America, is the source of an agent that kills human leukemia stem cells like no other single therapy, scientists at the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center have discovered. Their investigation is reported in the online edition of the journal Blood.

It will take months before a useable, pharmaceutical compound can be made from parthenolide, the main component in Feverfew. However, stem cell expert Craig Jordan, associate professor of medicine and biomedical genetics, and lead author Monica Guzman, senior instructor of hematology/oncology, say their group is collaborating with University of Kentucky chemists who have identified a water-soluble molecule that has the same properties as parthenolide. See www.urmc.rochester.edu/pr/ news/story.cfm?id=731.



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