The National Health Service and the Department for Health in UK set up a plan for "Action on Hearing Loss" in 2015, to address the growing problems of hearing loss which have significant economic, social and personal consequences. It is estimated that one in six people in the UK suffer from one or the other form of hearing loss and that amounts to nearly 11 million people!
This year, Dr. Raj Ladher of NCBS, who heads the "Ear Lab", was awarded the 'Action on Hearing Loss' grant to enable him to continue working on the protein "protocadherin-15". Earlier reports from Ladher group revealed that protocadherin-15 is modified in hair cells of the ear. The new funds will allow them to understand if modified protocadherin-15 alters the way in which hair cells respond to sound. This could help explain exactly how hair cells turn sound vibration information into electrical signals that the brain can process, and suggest ways in which protocadherin-15 can be targeted to develop treatments for hearing loss.
To address these issues Ladher laboratory will use cell lines, mouse models as well as genetically engineered mice. Protocadherin-15 is crucial in allowing the inner ear to detect sound and balance information and passes it on to the brain. Mutations in protocadherin-15 cause hearing loss. This research will provide more insight into how protocadherin-15 is important for hearing, and how it could be targeted with drugs to repair its function and restore hearing.
The Bangalore Life Sciences Cluster (BLiSc) wishes Dr. Ladher success at every step of his research.