New Drug Combo May Fight Hearing Loss
Hearing loss affects about 48 million people in the United States. Scientists from MIT, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Massachusetts Eye and Ear recently discovered a combination of drugs that could provide a new way to treat hearing loss.
Tiny hair cells within the inner ear detect sound waves, translate them into nerve signals, and transmit them to the brain—allowing us to hear. One of the most common causes of hearing loss is damage to these cells, which do not regenerate on their own. According to researchers, this newly discovered drug combination expands the population of supporting cells in the ear (called progenitor cells) and turns them into hair cells, potentially restoring hearing.
Aging, exposure to loud noises, and other factors can contribute to hearing loss, which affects one in three people over the age of 65. Researchers hope to begin testing this new treatment in human patients within 18 months.
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