Hearing loss could be reversible in the future
Hearing loss over time is a genuine threat to sound engineers, music producers, and DJs. This is particularly due to the fact that the work entails being in nightclubs or loud venues quite often. Loud sound can permanently bend or prune the fragile hair cells in the ear.
While various ear plugs exist, hearing loss still looms over the careers of these professionals. There isn’t a pharmaceutical drug in existence that can cure hearing loss and for those with hearing problems, a hearing aid is the only option.
When a songbird loses its hearing due to physical trauma or loud noise, the sensory hair cells in its inner ear regenerate naturally. The healed bird can use its restored hearing to decode complex songs from other birds. This kind of ear repair is common for vertebrates. It is only in mammals that hair cell death is irreparable.
Humans are born with fifteen thousand hair cells in each ear and they do not replenish themselves. It is the loss of these hair cells over time that accounts for much of the age related hearing loss around the world, as well as that caused by too much loud noise.
There is hope…
Audion Therapeutics is working on a proof of concept for regeneration of human ear hair cells. They are using compounds developed by pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and applying them locally to the inner ear. Audion is now planning its first small, human clinical trials.
Another company, Frequency Therapeutics has been developing ways to induce supporting cells to multiply and then become hair cells, using a notch inhibitor. The procedure would involve releasing the drug as a foam or using a tube in the tympanic membrane to send doses into the middle ear.
So there’s a little good news. The future health of your hearing may not be at a total risk thanks to the new research being done around hearing loss.