Malaria drug could help prevent form of hereditary hearing loss

Summarized by Jennee Harmuth, staff writer

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School have found that an anti-malarial drug named artemisinin may help prevent hearing loss due to types of hereditary hearing loss caused by certain proteins that are unable to reach the inner ear. This research especially applies to those who suffer from Usher syndrome, a disease that typically leads to hearing and vision loss in its victims.

According to researchers, the sensory cells of the inner ear, commonly referred to as “hair cells,” convert sound and movement vibrations into a language the brain understands for hearing and balance. When the proteins get stuck in the hair cells this conversion does not take place. So far artemisinin has been used to study its effects on zebrafish. Senior author of the study, Kumar N. Alagramam, PhD, notes, “This could be a re-puposable drug, with a safe profile to treat Usher syndrome patients.”

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