In news that’s faint music to our poor damaged ears, trials on mice have shows that hearing loss in humans may be reversible.
CC: Brian Johnson.
However, with the treatment still yet to enter clinical trials on humans, the cure for those of us living with concert/headphone-induced tinnitus may still be a ways off (I blame those damn iPod ear buds).
As the Atlantic reports, the supposed cure hinges on something called a “notch inhibitor” (not a form of birth control, btw) which is found in certain animals like fish and birds, and which allows them to regrow inactive sensory hair cells after hearing loss.
By imitating this cheeky inhibitor, the new treatment could allow human hair cells to multiply. So essentially, it’s like Advanced Hair Studio for your ears.
The breakthrough came in 2013, when – using research conducted by Dr. Albert Edge (no relation to the U2 guitarist) – scientists managed to regrow hair cells in the cochlea of mice.
ELI5: Whereas with mammalian hearing, a loud sound or physical trauma renders hair cells permanently ineffective and therefore blocks the ability to hear specific frequencies, the treatment apparently allowed the mice to detect frequencies that had been missing beforehand.
Backed by European Union’s Horizon 2020 fund, Dutch company Audion Therapeutics (where good old Dr Edge works) is now planning to conduct the first clinical trials on human subjects.
And still years – or even decades – away, the treatment already has some fierce competition.
Farmington, Connecticut based start-up Frequency Therapeutics is also gunning to be the leaders of the hearing loss treatment racket, after recently filing a patent for a treatment in development that uses a foam of a tube, inserted into the middle ear.
While using animal magic to grow back my hearing sounds infinitely cooler than just jamming a tube in there, at this point I don’t really care. Just make the ringing stop fancy science men. MAKE IT STAHP.