Hearing restored in mice
By stimulating production of a protein that plays a crucial role in the communication between the ears and the brain, scientists have been able to restore hearing in noise-deafened mice, according to a study published in the online journal eLife.
Researchers from the University of Michigan and Harvard Medical School stimulated supporting cells in the inner ear of mice that produce a protein known as neurotrophin-3 (NT3). They did so by administering a drug, tamoxifen, which prompted the cells to produce more of the essential protein. The mice that were administered the drug regained hearing over a two-week period. The researchers did note that the mice in the study were only partially deaf and that it's not clear if this technique would be effective for subjects that are fully deaf.
Approximately 50 million Americans have hearing loss in at least one ear, with about 26 million people between 20 and 69 experiencing high-frequency hearing loss as a result of noise exposure.