One of the most popular hearing loss questions today is…
Can hearing loss be reversed?
We’ve briefly touched on this before, and here’s what we had to say:
At this point in time there are no therapies, medications, vitamins, or supplements of any kind that have been proven to reverse sensorineural hearing loss.
All of this leads us to the next question that is often asked.
If we could reverse hearing loss, how would we do it?
4 Potential Ways to Reverse Hearing Loss
Day in, and day out scientists, audiologists, and ENTs are trying to figure out a way to reverse haring loss. Hundreds of different studies are conducted around the world from testing antibiotics on mice to insect inspired hearing aids, but none of them have found a true solution to reversing hearing loss.
However, below you will find four (4) promising fields (in no particular order)
Number 1: Stem Cell Therapy
The idea of utilizing stem cells in medical applications happened all the way back in 1981, though it wasn’t until 1998 that scientists discovered how to derive stem cells from human embryos and grow them in a lab.
That sounds great right? But how does it apply to hearing loss?
Without getting too technical, hearing loss is essentially the break down of hair cells. As more and more hair cells are damaged you lose hearing. At first it may not even be noticeable. But eventually the irreversible damage to enough hair cells will cause significant hearing loss.
This is where stem cell therapy steps in. The idea is that stem cell transplantation could replace damaged hair cells, essentially reversing hearing loss.
If you want to look into more research on stem cell therapy and hearing loss, then we recommend checking out:
Number 2: Gene Therapy
Gene therapy has been another increasingly popular experimental technique that researchers believe may eventually help reverse hearing loss, especially since Francis Collins alongside The Human Genome Project was able to successfully map the human genome.
The approach here is to replace, “inactivate,” or supplement a degenerative, mutated, or defective gene. This method still has its risks, but has been successfully shown to restore hearing loss in mice (with the addition of viral therapy, which we’ll discuss below).
Number 3: Cell Therapy
Cell therapy may sound a lot like stem cell therapy (that we discussed above), and that’s because it is. Stem cell therapy is actually a specific type of cell therapy that deals solely with stem cells, while cell therapy handles the rest of the cellular types.
Cell therapy dates as far back as the 1940s when blood transfusions or bone marrow transplantations were conducted.
Since then, researchers have turned to Fibroblasts, Schwann cells, and stem cells. Cellular implants are considered to promote nerve regeneration, and could possibly help recover degenerative hair cells.
In addition, research scientists are also looking at animal cell growth (such as the zebrafish) to determine if their regenerative cell processes can be replicated in humans.
Number 4: Viral Therapy
Use a virus to restore hearing loss?
Yes, you read that correctly.
Though it’s not quite that straight forward, scientists have seen promising results from utilizing a genetically modified virus to “attack” and correct defective hair cells.
With all that said, as of right now there is no magic formula or pill to reverse hearing loss. But as we move farther down the path that we described above, there is a lot of confidence from many professionals that one day hearing loss will be completely reversible.
(Note: for more information you may also be interested in the Hearing Restoration Project)