According to the World Health Organization, there are now more than 466 million people with hearing loss worldwide, of which 34 million are children. If you believe the prognosis of scientists with the current noise pollution of cities and the presence of other factors that damage the human ear, the number of deaf people will reach 900 million by 2050. However, these alarming consequences can be prevented by creating an effective hearing-recovery technology that does not yet exist. Earlier, it was believed that auditory cells were completely unsuitable for the restoration, but researchers at Harvard Medical School managed to solve this difficult task.
In fact, the main problem in restoring hearing has been that the so-called hair cells of mammals and humans are unable to divide. These body cells play the role of certain sound receivers that convert sound vibrations into electrical signals that are transmitted to the brain. Unfortunately, these cells are easily destroyed due to their inheritance and the effects of loud noises, which causes the deafness of humans. Do not forget about aging – hearing problems in the elderly are caused by the gradual loss of hair cells.
How can I restore my hearing?
So far, scientists have not been able to develop an effective method for restoring hearing, producing only all types of hearing aids and lip readers. Some researchers managed to divide and recover the auditory cells, but the methods they developed only worked in newborn mice and adults, with no result. It is logical to assume that they are hardly effective in the treatment of deafness in humans.
However, according to the journal Nature Communications, scientists in the US state of Massachusetts have managed to initiate the division of hair cells in adult mice. A group of scientists led by Professor Zheng-Yi Chen activated two specific genes in a group of mice at the age of six to eight weeks. Since the life expectancy of mice is about 2-3 years, these individuals are considered quite mature and suitable for research.
And did you know about the existence of implants that are supposed to be heard again?
The first activated gene was the so-called Mus, which is responsible for cell reproduction. The second activated gene is known as NOTCH1 and regulates the interaction of the cells with each other. As it turned out, activation of these two genes actually led to the division of the auditory cells in adult mice. In addition, the restored cells established a strong connection to the parts of the brain responsible for hearing.
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The researchers are certain that the scientific work they have done eliminates the main problem that has been hampering the restoration of hearing in deaf people all the time. When exactly the technology will be suitable for human use is not yet known. Currently, scientists want to test the new method on adult pigs.