Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Steven Green, Professor of Biology, and Ning Hu, Research Scientist (Green Lab), received a 3-year, $1.3 million grant in 2022 from the Department of Defense entitled, “Preclinical development of use-dependent, selective blockers of GluA2-lacking AMPA receptors to prevent noise-induced neurodegeneration.”

Noise damages the nerve cells in the cochlea that convey auditory information to the brain. Specifically, the damage is to the synaptic connections through which information flows from the auditory sensory cells to the nerve cells. This can cause hearing impairment to people who are continually exposed to loud sounds because of their occupations or recreational choices. Wearing earmuffs or earplugs in loud environments provides noise protection but is not always safe because they can impede hearing or understanding commands, instructions, and warnings. This is especially problematic for military personnel in combat situations but also a problem for musicians, construction, industrial workers, and others in noisy environments. This funding from the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program is for the purpose of developing new compounds to protect against noise damage to cochlear synapses but without affecting the ability to hear clearly. The development strategy is novel, based on research the Green Lab published in 2020 identifying selective blockers of synaptic transmission as neuroprotective compounds that completely prevent damaging aspects of synaptic transmission while allowing sufficient transmission to permit normal hearing.