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MIT researchers are reversing hearing loss by regenerating ear hair cells

Close-up of a man’s ear

Did you know that four million Canadians live with hearing loss? The sad reality is that many of these individuals experience feelings of isolation and depression because of their impaired hearing.

The biotechnology company Frequency Therapeutics wants to change that and help people live more fulfilling lives by reversing hearing loss. They have developed a process of regenerating the tiny hair cells in the inner ear that help people hear. Here’s everything you need to know about this exciting hearing regeneration innovation.

How the hair cellsin your inner ear help with hearing

Did you know there are tiny hair cells inside your cochlea, or inner ear, that help you hear? They pick up sound waves and change them into nerve signals that the brain interprets as sounds. Humans are born with about 15,000 hair cells in each cochlea. Over time, these inner ear hair cells can become damaged and die. Because they never regrow, their loss gradually leads to hearing loss.

Researchers from MIT discovered that the same molecules that control the gut’s stem cells are also used by progenitor cells, a close descendant of stem cells. Like stem cells, progenitor cells can turn into specialized cells in the body. The new drug candidate from Frequency Therapeutics uses this technology and is designed to be injected into the ear to reverse hearing loss by regrowing hair cells within the cochlea.

The results of ear hair cell regeneration

The first clinical inner ear cell regeneration study by Frequency Therapeutics saw significant improvements in many participants’ speech perception after a single injection. Some responses lasted nearly two years. So far, the company has given doses to  more than 200 participants and these individuals have  seen meaningful improvements in their speech perception.

How to protect your ears and prevent hearing loss

The best way to safeguard your hearing is to limit your exposure to loud noises. For instance, listening to TV shows and music at lower volumes. Hearingprotection is essential in loud environments. Wear earplugs to concerts and sporting events and invest in proper hearing protection for noisy tasks like mowing the lawn and using power tools. Consistent use of hearing protection won’t regrow your inner ear hair cells, butcan prevent them from dying in the first place.

Hearing specialists in Alberta

If you want to preserve or improve your hearing, visit the audiologists at Soundwave Hearing Care. From our locations in Calgary,, High River and Grande Prairie, we conduct comprehensive hearing tests and offer an extensive selection of custom lifestyle molds and hearing aids. Contact us to request more information about our products and services.

All the blogs are reviewed and edited by our clinic's lead audiologist, Dr. Anne Wooliams. Dr. Woolliams is an experienced audiologist specialized in pediatric audiology, auditory processing, and tinnitus/sound sensitivity therapy. She is dedicated to providing top-notch hearing care and helping her clients improve their language and communication abilities. Dr. Woolliams' expertise in literature and linguistics, combined with her passion for helping people improve their language and communication, make her an incredibly valuable asset in the field of audiology. Learn more about Dr. Woolliams.