Study Suggests Hearing Loss Could Be Reversible
Is hearing loss reversible?
Although it may be treatable with hearing aids and other devices, the answer to the much-asked question of whether hearing loss can be cured has always been a definitive “no”.
Why is that? Well, much hearing loss is caused by damaged hair cells in the ear. Our hearing works, in part, by having lots of tiny hair cells detect and conduct sound to the auditory nerve, which carries sound signals to the brain. When exposed to loud noises, however, these cells become damaged or die, leading to hearing loss. The more hair cells that are damaged, the less hearing you have. So far, no one has discovered any way to repair or replace these cells.
But a new study undertaken by Dutch company, Audion Therapeutics is muddying the waters in the best possible way. This study has found that it may be possible, in the future, to regrow new hair cells. The doctors who oversaw the study got the idea from reading a report about a trial run of a new dementia drug. The drug, which involved a molecule called a “notch inhibitor”, had side effects that the researchers thought might be perfect for treating hearing loss. Now the company has shown that this molecule can grow new hair cells in laboratory settings. They hope to use the findings to develop a foam that could be applied to the ear and then grow back lost hair cells, restoring hearing naturally and permanently.
This study is not the first recent study to suggest that hearing damage might be treated more successfully in the future. Two years ago, a study completed at Stanford by the Stanford Initiative to Cure Hearing Loss (SICHL) found that a certain medication might be effective in limiting the damage to the inner ear caused by exposure to noise. However, the researchers then said that they needed to find a way to regrow hair cells in order to make their medication effective. The new study by Audion may be exactly what the Stanford researchers need.
All this is exciting news, but don’t throw away your hearing aids just yet – the treatment may take many years to develop. It is still in the planning phase, and will take a long time and many clinical trials before they are sure that it is both safe and effective in humans.
In the meantime, people looking for help with hearing loss can still contact New Generation Hearing Centers for quick and compassionate treatment with the most cutting-edge technology available in hearing aids.