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Collaborative research into hearing loss treatment with Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences

Together with Dr Mahmood Bhutta, a surgeon at Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, researchers at MRC Harwell discovered the molecular basis for chronic inflammation caused by otitis media with effusion.

Overview

In collaboration with Dr Mahmood Bhutta, a surgeon at Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, researchers at MRC Harwell discovered the molecular basis for chronic inflammation caused by otitis media with effusion, also known as glue ear, a common cause of hearing loss in children. The results could lead to new treatments that avoid the need for surgery. The researchers determined the molecular pathway that causes inflammationand build-up of fluid in the ear, triggered by a lack of oxygen. By repurposing existing drugs, they successfully stalled this pathway and improved the hearing of two mouse strains with the condition.

 Impact

Almost every child will have had either an ear infection or an episode of glue ear by the age of five. Most of these episodes resolve, but in some children the problems persist and may lead to a glue ear that is present over many months, or may lead to repeated ear infections. This can have serious effects, such as hindering a child’s language development.

Currently, the only treatment for glue ear is the surgical insertion of small ventilation tubes, called grommets, into the eardrum. These findings could be used to develop alternative treatments, such as one that could be applied to the surface of the eardrum, preventing the need for surgery.

MRC Harwell continues to work closely with Dr Mahmood Bhutta to further investigate the causes and progression of otitis media, particularly through a study to determine the genes that predispose children to glue ear.

 Key Individuals

  • Professor Steve Brown
  • Professor Michael Cheeseman
  • Dr Mahmood Bhutta

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Facility Contact

MRC Harwell (Medical Research Council)
Tel.: +44 (0) 1235 841000
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