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A team of experts at Harvard Medical School have reportedly discovered a “groundbreaking” solution to hearing loss.
Scientists believe they have identified a “cocktail” of drug-like molecules that can regenerate the hair cells within our ears that enable us to hear
As first reported by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the development is reprogramming drug-like molecules to regenerate cochlear hair — improving hearing.
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The paper continues to claim that this discovery is the “holy grail” of hearing loss and that the study should be the groundwork for future clinical trials.
“These findings are extremely exciting because throughout the history of the hearing loss field, the ability to regenerate hair cells in an inner ear has been the holy grail,” said Zheng-Yi Chen, an HMS associate professor, in a statement. “We now have a drug-like cocktail that shows the feasibility of an approach that we can explore for future clinical applications.”
Chen’s team had previously tested the study on mice when it was found that the team could make cells divide and develop the characteristics of hair cells.
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By using molecules referred to as “small interfering RNAs” (siRNAs), the team removed genes which allowed for the growth of hair cells in the inner ear.
“Think about a brake when driving a car,” Chen explained. “If the brake is always engaged, you can’t drive. We found an siRNA that could remove the brake in this genetic pathway.”
Before testing out the treatment on humans tests will be made on larger animals first.
Becky Buckle is Mixmag’s Multimedia Editor, follow her on Twitter
Written by: Tim Hopkins