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Decibel Therapeutics Research on The Role of Molecular Diversity in Neurons Critical for Hearing Published in Cell

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Decibel
Therapeutics
researchers and Johns Hopkins University professors
Ulrich Mueller, Ph.D. (a Decibel co-founder) and Dwight Bergles, Ph.D.,
today published the results of groundbreaking research which may hold
the key to discovering new mechanisms behind hearing disorders and
tinnitus. Corroborative findings were published in the same issue of Cell
by another research team led by Lisa Goodrich, Ph.D. of Harvard
University, and included Decibel co-founder Charlie Lieberman, Ph.D.

Researchers in the field of hearing, led by Dr. Lieberman, have long
hypothesized that a diversity of neuronal cell types exists within the
cochlea and that disorders such as tinnitus and the inability to
discriminate speech in the face of background noise are associated with
selective damage of these cell types. Until now, knowledge of how
cochlear neurons differ at the molecular level has proved elusive,
hampering the exploration of novel drug targets for these disorders.

Decibel researchers together with Drs. Mueller and Bergles utilized
massively parallel single-cell RNA-sequencing to profile the
transcriptomes of thousands of individual cochlear neurons. In addition,
the team identified groups of genes (ion channels, adhesion molecules,
transcription factors) that are enriched within each subtype of neuron
and which may regulate their unique functional properties. "For the
first time, we have elucidated the differences in gene expression that
underlie the neuronal diversity that has long been hypothesized," said
Joe Burns, Head of Biology at Decibel Therapeutics and co-author of the
publication. "We were especially excited to discover that functional
activity of hair cells, the sound-sensing cells to which neurons
connect, is essential in determining the unique identity of neuronal
subtypes during development. This raises critical questions as to
whether preservation of neuronal identity following hair cell damage
could play a role in addressing tinnitus, sensorineural hearing loss,
and even the optimization of cochlear implant performance," Burns added.

"Through our own work, as well as through collaborations with leading
academic researchers around the world, Decibel is interrogating the
diverse mechanisms involved in hearing function with a level of depth
that has only recently become possible," said Dr. Michael Su, Chief
Scientific Officer at Decibel Therapeutics. "This is an incredibly
exciting time for the field, and we look forward to working with the
broader scientific community to translate breakthrough research, such as
this, into medicines which will one day impact the lives of millions of
people around the world."

About Decibel Therapeutics, Inc.

Decibel Therapeutics has established the world's first comprehensive
drug discovery, development, and translational research platform to
discover and develop therapeutics to protect, repair, and restore
hearing. To serve the over half a billion people globally living with
hearing loss and related disorders, Decibel is committed to creating a
world in which the benefits and joys of hearing are available to all.
Decibel is headquartered in Boston, Mass.

For more information about Decibel Therapeutics, please visit www.decibeltx.com
or follow @DecibelTx
on Twitter.

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