More and more of us either have or will have hearing problems. In fact the number of Americans with hearing loss has nearly tripled in the last 40 years to 36 million. Now, gene therapy to the rescue, report UTMB’s Norbert Herzog and David Niesel in this week’s installment of Medical Discovery News. In this case a gene called Math1 has been used to generate new hair cells inside a guinea pig's inner ear known as the cochlea. For us, those tiny hairs pick up sound vibrations to allow us to hear. One reason why more Americans are facing hearing loss is prolonged exposure to loud noises. This type of hearing loss is called sensorineural which is damage to the cochlea or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain. The result is a reduction in sound level and difficulty hearing faint sounds. But a person can also have trouble understanding speech. The program airs locally at 10 a.m. Saturday on KUHF.