This drug could reverse hearing loss

MIT scientists have discovered a way to regenerate hearing, by stimulating hair cells to grow inside your ear.

If you’ve exposed your ears to one too many punk shows and you find yourself asking “WHAT?” three times, whenever anyone tells you anything, before giving up and hitting them with a fake laugh, hoping that they said something funny – you could be in luck.

Researchers at MIT’s Frequency Therapeutics have developed a new drug that they’re hoping could reverse hearing loss.

Reverse hearing loss
The pink dots in the diagram represent the regenerated hearing cells after treatment | Credit: MIT

To give you a bit of a background in the process of hearing loss, it is often a result of the small hairs within your ear dying as they are exposed to loud noises, or certain medications. Those hairs allow us to hear, so every time some of them die, our hearing gets slightly worse.

But that’s where Frequency comes in. Their latest study has produced exciting results using a molecule that can program stem cells to regenerate those hairs inside your ear, and in turn, reverse hearing loss.

Early trials have been extremely successful, with patients experiencing noticeable improvements in understanding speech.

“Speech perception is the No. 1 goal for improving hearing and the No. 1 need we hear from patients,” said Frequency co-founder Chris Loose.

The research body is currently recruiting for another trial involving 124 people, after preliminary results saw the injections improve hearing for up to two years from a single dose.

“Hearing is such an important sense; it connects people to their community and cultivates a sense of identity,” explained Harvard and MIT Health Sciences and Technology faculty member Jeff Karp. “I think the potential to restore hearing will have enormous impact on society.”

But still, remember to wear earplugs at your next concert. You will thank yourself later, we promise.