New drug regrows auditory hair cells offering a possible cure for deafness
New Drug Regrows Auditory Hair Cells, Offering a Possible Cure for
If you attended too many rock shows in your youth, or if you grew up next door to a raised subway
platform, then you’ll be happy to hear about new research that could amount to a cure for deafness.
British scientists are currently researching a drug which has been shown to reverse deafness in mice.
The experimental drug, codenamed LY411575, allows for the regeneration of the sensory hair cells that
are crucial to hearing, and scientists are hopeful it could someday soon be used to improve hearing in
humans as well.
New Hope for Those Suffering From Hearing Loss
This is the first research to come out to show that auditory hair cells can be regrown. "It is possible to
regenerate hair cells, and that's something that had not been possible before," said Albert Edge of
Harvard Medical School, who led the study.
Previously, deafness caused by loud noises
was thought to be incurable. Tiny hairs that
grow on a shell-shaped organ in our ears
called the cochlea are responsible for
translating vibrations into what our brain
interprets as sound. When these hairs are
damaged, by a loud noise or sometimes by
illness, it was thought that they were
damaged for good—until now.
Freeing Up Your Ears So They Can
Regrow Their Own Auditory Hair
The new drug LY411575 works by blocking
Notch, the protein that prevents neighboring
cells, called supporting cells, from turning
into sensory hair cells. With the inhibiting
protein out of the way, the supporting cells
are free to transform themselves into the tiny hairs so vital for our hearing.
Scientists tested the drug on a group of deaf mice over a period of 3 months. Scientists applied the drug
inside the mice’s inner ears, and by the end of the trial, the mice regained 20% of their hearing.
More Research Needed, But Plenty of Hope Going Forward
Scientists caution that the drug is not yet ready for use on humans. There may be possible side effects
that we don’t know of yet, and other treatments—such as cochlear implants—are still more
But the new drug is unique in its ability to regenerate hair cells, which is cause for a great deal of hope
for the future of hearing loss treatments. Whether LY411575 has the ability to completely restore
hearing in humans or not, even a partial improvement would be greatly welcomed by many people.
Research for this new drug comes at a time of great progress for hearing loss treatments. With the help
of implants, children have been able to hear their parents’ voices for the first time. Many new
technologies have given hope to adults and children alike who experience partial hearing loss or
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