Here’s some news that should be exciting to all readers hearing a gentle high-pitched ringing right now: Scientists in Britain think they may have found a cure for deafness caused by loud noises, infections, and toxic drugs. In tests, a treatment codenamed LY411575 has been shown to reverse deafness in mice. Neuroscience journal Neuron says that the drug may very well work on humans, but that more research is still needed. Still, its mere existence should be music to the ears of anyone who’s having trouble hearing that music, after years of headphone use or basement shows.
Deafness occurs—in these cases, at least—when sensory hair cells within the ear have been lost. Previously, those cells didn’t redevelop, meaning once they were gone they were gone. But LY411575 has been seen to regenerate those cells in mice and restore hearing. The drug works by blocking a protein called Notch, which cruelly prevents stem cells from becoming new sensory hair cells within the cochlea.
Hearing loss affects 250 million people worldwide. Deafness Research UK says that about 87 percent of Britons have some level of deafness, due most likely to exposure to loud noises.