Discovery Raises Hope of Restoring Hearing
Could scientists one day reverse hearing loss?
A new discovery involving two genes vital for inner ear development has raised hopes about the possibility of people regaining hearing.
Hair cells in the inner ear are crucial for hearing and balance. Once they are damaged, they're unable to regrow like the hairs on our heads.
But a study with mice at The Rockefeller University in New York may have found a way to address that.
Researchers examined mice before and after birth, and by observing changes in gene expression in the part of the inner ear lined with hair cells, they found two genes that were highly active before birth, but stalled after birth, which appeared to explain why hairs in the ear don't regrow.
When the scientists turned these genes on in older mice, new hair cells were regenerated.
It's only a first step and more research needs to be done, but the research does show promise in treating hearing loss. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it affects about 36 million Americans.