Ear hair growth 'can restore hearing'

10 January 2013

Deafness could be cured by regenerating the growth of miniscule hairs in the ear which possess the ability to detect sounds, researchers have stated.

In a study between Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Harvard Medical School, it was discovered that through the deployment of a new drug codenamed LY411575, hearing can be restored.

This is an important distinction that has to be noted. The trials on mice did not lead to normal hearing. Instead, mice went from being permanently deaf to being able to detect sounds. In the future, this could eventually lead to successful treatment.

"We show that hair cells can be regenerated from the surrounding cells in the cochlea," commented Dr Albert Edge, from Harvard Medical School in the US and the study's lead researcher.
"These cells, called supporting cells, transdifferentiate into hair cells after inhibition of the Notch signalling pathway, and the new hair cell generation results in a recovery of hearing in the region of the cochlea where the new hair cells appear."

There are three main types of hearing loss: conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss and mixed hearing loss.
Posted by Jeanette Royston

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