New Drug Combats Deafness In Mice

By Jessica Rawden 2013-01-10 20:34:30
For the first time ever, scientists have taken steps in the fight to cure deafness. A study undertaken at Harvard Medical School has found that a new drug has been able to partially restore hearing in mice that were deaf prior to taking the drug. Before you get too excited, the study has currently only performed in mice, but the Harvard scientists hope it will pave the way for hearing restoration in humans in the future.

The drug is currently rolling with the name LY411575 and works by producing tiny hairs in the inner ear that process vibrations, then sending a signal to the brain. The process of producing these hairs is pretty complicated. According to BBC News, the drug works by turning cells that would normally have other functions into the cells needed to detect sounds.

The drug was published this week in the journal Neuron, although results are very preliminary. While this is the first time cells have been able to be produced in adult mammals, a doctor involved in the study, Dr. Albert Edge, says that the sound that was produced is still in the rudimentary stages, akin to hearing “loud noises in a low frequency,” like a “door slamming.”

As the study shows, we aren’t at the point where these hairs can be generated in humans, yet, much less fully reduce the effects of deafness. However, getting somewhere is still better than getting nowhere.

Photo Credit@Shutterstock /Brian A Jackson
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