Announcing 2019 Capita Foundation Auditory Research (CFAR) grant award recipients
Prof. Karen Avraham
Tel Aviv University
Project Title: "Gene therapy in a mouse model of human hearing loss DFNB76"
Adeno-associated virus (AAV) has become very popular in the gene therapy field in recent years, and several proof-of-principal studies in the field of hearing loss have demonstrated its potential for treatment of genetic deafness. AAV has major advantages for gene therapy. Most importantly, AAV appears to elicit no immunological response in humans and recombinant AAV is also almost entirely incapable of integration, which enhances its safety. Several synthetic AAVs have been engineered to transduce cells in the inner ear with high efficiency and have been used to demonstrate rescue of auditory and vestibular function in deafness mouse models. We hope our efforts will lay the groundwork for future development of gene therapy in humans. In addition, we hope this work will contribute to the understanding of the roles of nesprin proteins in cellular processes in general, and specifically in outer hair cell physiology.
The point of no return? These outer hair cells are in excellent form, arranged in three rows, just a day before they start deteriorating due to an absence of the gene SYNE4. Alterations in the DNA sequence of the SYNE4 gene leads to deafness in children and adults. Models are being used to test methods of gene therapy, in order to rescue hearing due to defects in the SYNE4 gene.
Credit: Shahar Taiber, MD-PhD student
Karen Avraham - Genomics of Deafness laboratory, Tel Aviv University
Valeriy Shafiro, Ph.D.
Project Title: "Validation of the Basic Auditory Skills Evaluation (BASE)
battery for internet home testing of cochlear implant listeners"
Joseph C. Toscano, Ph.D.
Project Title: "Improving speech recognition for listeners with auditory neuropathy"
Our research examines effects of hearing difficulty on speech perception, a problem that affects many adults even if they have normal hearing thresholds. These cases of "hidden hearing loss" can result in problems coding intensity differences at higher sound levels and, in turn, can disrupt perception of certain acoustic cues used to distinguish speech sounds. This project will investigate a new technique to improve speech recognition by filtering the sound signal to make these intensity differences more salient, compensating for deficits associated with hidden hearing loss.
Saad Bhamla, Ph.D.
Georgia Tech University
Project Title: “The LoCHAid: A low-cost, open-source hearing aid for Age Related Hearing Loss”
Victor Wong, Ph.D.
Burke Neurological Institute
Project Title: "TARGETING α-TUBULIN AND MIRO ACETYLATION TO
ENHANCE NEURITE OUTGROWTH IN SPIRAL GANGLION NEURONS"
University of Ottawa
Project Title: “Investigating the Temporal Resolution Capacity in School Aged Children via Neurophysiological Measurement. Pilot Study.”
Prof. Koravand's research deals with the relationship between the peripheral and central auditory systems in children. Her goal is to develop neurophysiological measures (biological markers) to assess the central auditory functions of children during early childhood, to prevent disorders while brain plasticity is still significant.