Hope For The Deaf After U.S. Military Fund Australian Research

The U.S. Defence Department will help fund Australian research into breakthrough hearing loss treatment.

Nerve hearing loss is the most common form of deafness, and is also the most common form of disability among returned service personnel.

Former U.S. Army Officer Jim Findley suffered nerve hearing loss during a tour of Afghanistan, and said it continually makes "life difficult".

"It's overwhelming to the senses, the light can be blinding, the noise can be deafening," he told 10 News First.

"It's difficult when you are unable to hear someone and you lean in and ask them if they would mind repeating what they just said and then you can't hear them again, it makes life difficult."

The U.S. Defence Department is donating $1.1 million to the Bionics Institute of Australia to directly treat the damaged nerves.

There are no other current treatments for nerve hearing loss, and those who suffer from this disability rely on cochlear implants or hearing aides.

The new technology uses nano-engineered particles to deliver a drug that repairs auditory nerves to the inner ear.

Researchers have had success with the technique on rodents, and the next step is human trials.

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"It's a real challenge to keep these drugs in the right place for long enough, and that's been the real breakthrough," Professor Andrew Wise, from the Bionic Institute of Australia told 10 News First.

Nerve hearing loss also has links to dementia, said Doctor Sherryl Wagstaff,  Medical Director at Epworth East Hospital in Melbourne.

"It is earth-shattering if this translates," she said.