We talk about cochlear implants again in this blog. And in recent weeks, several news items have coincided that come together to define what the future generation of these devices will be like, which have already changed the lives of 320,000 people in the world, 9,000 of them in Spain. The great novelty and advance of these future cochlear implants is that they will discriminate sounds much more effectively, which will allow, for example, their users to listen to music in a real and pleasant way.
The first good news about the future of cochlear implants comes from the antipodes. There, a group of scientists from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have for the first time administered electrical impulses from a cochlear implant to apply gene therapy, successfully growing auditory nerves. This finding opens the door to a new generation of devices that refine much more and effectively discriminate the entire palette of shades. It’s more, Matthias Klugmannspokesperson for the group of researchers, believes that it will not be difficult to develop the technique to incorporate gene therapy and improve the quality of hearing in people with hearing problems: ”We are in discussions with our collaborators to plan an initial small-scale clinical trial and establish its safety and efficacy. We hope to start with it in two or three years”.
This research for the development of the bionic ear, published in the Science Transnational Medicinehas been financed by Cochlear Limitedworld leader in cochlear implants.
The other novelty in the scope of this solution has its own name: Miguel Merchanresearcher of Institute of Neurosciences of Castilla y León and former director of the center located in Salamanca. Merchán is working on a new generation of cochlear implants specific for China and the Asian continent, where the language is “tonal, very modulated, with many nuances”, as stated to the newspaper The world. This greater sound variety in speech conditions the effectiveness of cochlear implants in the area. For this reason, future devices “they must be based on the downstream codes of the auditory cerebral cortex”so that much greater tonal discrimination is possible, better sound localization and, therefore, “greater precision in sound coding in the nervous system”.
The first multichannel cochlear implant intervention was developed in 1978 by the Australian Graeme Clark, which received in 2013 the prestigious Lasker-DeBakey Award to medical research, considered the American Nobel Prize winners.