New Study Suggests Hearing Loss Could Be Reversible
The days of permanent hearing loss as an occupational hazard for professional musicians might soon be over.
The Atlantic reports on a new study that points to the regenerative abilities of animals as a possible key to reversing human hearing loss. Called the notch inhibitor, it actually triggers the growth of new sensory hair cells — and now scientists are trying to figure out how to duplicate that function in humans.
It's still relatively early going, but research has already produced some promising developments. Several years ago, scientists successfully triggered the regrowth of cochlear hair in lab mice — and although it could take "years or, indeed, decades" before a workable solution is devised, they plan to conduct their first human trials in the not-too-distant future.
If or when this treatment is successful in humans, the implications could be huge in the classic rock world, where permanent hearing loss has adversely affected generations of performers. Who co-founder Pete Townshend was one of the first to bring the issue to the public's attention through his long battle with the effects of high-volume performing, and has struggled with a resurgence of symptoms in recent years.
More recently, AC/DC singer Brian Johnson was forced to put a hold on live performing — and lost his spot in the band's lineup — after doctors warned he was at risk of near-total hearing loss. He's since sampled some new hearing aid technology, but if this research turns out to be successful, it could someday no longer be necessary.
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