Scientists at Massachusetts Eye and Ear as well as Harvard Medical School have developed a way to restore hearing to partially deaf mice. Researchers devised a new drug — dubbed LY411575 — that instructs nearby ear cells to regenerate sensory hair cells. The drug was able to produce its intended effect once it was combined with stem cells taken from the mice’s ears and applied directly to the cochlear region.
Researchers saw a dramatic improvement in the mice’s hearing after three months, especially in the high frequency range that diminishes in humans as they age. The research is still at an early stage, but the next step is to test additional drugs while also looking at other forms of hearing loss. The results are definitely encouraging, though, especially considering that the technique could potentially help millions around the world who suffer from similar hearing loss.