Hearing Loss Partially Reversed in Noise-Damaged Ears of Mice

January 18th, 2013

Via: Los Angeles Times:

Anyone who’s gone to too many rock concerts or worked with loud machinery for too long (or listened to too many kazillion-decibel advertisements at a movie theater) may eventually pay the price: hearing loss caused by damage to tiny, sound-transmitting cells in the inner ear.

Researchers now report they can regenerate some of these crucial “hair cells” in the inner ears of mice and restore noise-induced damage to some extent. It’s something that hearing scientists have been hoping for ages (though we will avoid using the term “holy grail”). The experiments, by Albert Edge of Harvard Medical School and his colleagues, were published in the Jan. 10 issue of the journal Neuron.

The drug, which goes by the natty name of LY41175, allows other cells in the inner ear to change into hair cells. Normally, these cells are inhibited from making the switch. LY41175 releases that inhibition by interfering with the activity of a protein called Notch.

In mice with noise damage, scientists found putting the drug into the middle ear and allowing it to diffuse into the inner ear increased numbers of hair cells in parts of the inner ear and, in step with that, increased the rodents’ ability to detect sounds that matched up to those parts of the inner ear. The effects lasted for at least three months, the longest period of time that the scientists tested.

Research Credit: conceptualdecay

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