“New Approach Promotes Growth of Sound-Detecting Hair Cells,” Breaking News From M.I.T
This Ombudsman again thanks Jason Pontin, editor of the “MIT Technology Review,” for his permission to quote directly from his publication this time on the breakthrough discovery of a possible drug treatment for hearing loss.
According to MIT, “Within the inner ear, thousands of hair cells detect sound waves and translate them into nerve signals that allow us to hear speech, music, and other every-day sounds. Damage to these cells is one of the leading causes of hearing loss, which affects 48 million Americans. Each of us is born with about 15,000 hair cells per ear, but noise exposure, aging, and some antibiotics can cause them fatal harm. Humans, unlike some other animals, don’t regenerate these cells when this happens. However, the inner ear does contain progenitor cells that can be induced to multiply and turn into hair cells with a certain combination of drugs”
Using innovative laboratory techniques, the research team was able to generate an amazing 2,000 times greater number of hair cell progenitors than previous approaches had produced!