The Cutting Edge of Regeneration

Welcome back to the Albuquerque Speech Language Hearing Center blog. Last month we took a look at how someone could become a Speech-Language Pathologist or an Audiologist, essentially a brief look at how to learn the tried and true methods of treatment we know so far. But scientists and doctors like ourselves are constantly striving to find new and better ways to treat and innovated ways to address problems for which we currently have no treatment. This month on the blog we are going to take a look at the new treatments and tech being developed.

With the unfortunate increase in veterans experiencing hearing loss and baby boomers reaching the age of naturally occurring hearing loss, there is a lot of interest in the progress of treatments. Four years ago, researchers at the Eaton-Peabody Laboratories, lead by Albert Edge, created a drug that suppresses proteins responsible for preventing the growth of hair cells. These cells are similar to stem cells in the cochlea. Regeneration is possible!

This wasn’t the first time that hearing restoration has been discovered. The original step on the path to hearing restoration occurred in the late 80’s when researchers made the discovery that young chickens have the ability to regenerate those hair cells and in doing so could regain lost hearing within weeks. This trait isn’t present in any mammals, but the hair cells that regenerate were similar enough in appearance to non-regenerating hair cells that the minds of scientists couldn’t stop turning.

This drug grew out of that discovery and with further research it’s possible we’ll be seeing the ability to reverse hearing loss for all sorts of reasons. The ability is already there, locked inside the cells and body just waiting for the right key to come along and open the possibilities.