Researchers have developed a new way to repair damaged cells and nerves deep inside the ear that could one day help restore hearing to millions. Age-related hearing loss affects two-thirds of people over the age of 70 and 17 percent of all adults in the United States.
The researchers, from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, have found a way to deliver two drugs to the inner ear to bind to bone in the structure and repair damage caused by noise exposure – the primary cause for age-related hearing loss. Their studies, which were conducted in laboratories, show this process can help facilitate the re-growth of nerve and hair cells necessary for hearing.
More studies are needed to determine if this new method is effective first in animals, then in humans. The research was published in Bioconjugate Chemistry.