Even if we don’t do things like go to loud shows and listen to music with our noise-cancelling headphones cranked full blast, we’re all going to lose at least some hearing in our lifetimes. If nothing else, aging will get us and turn us into a stereotype, making us scream “WHAT?!” all the time and not understand new music.
But now, maybe less than we thought.
Scientists at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Harvard Medical School have figured out how to apply a little Rogaine to your auditory hair cells. After blasting some mice with air horns or something, not because they had a hearing drug to test but because that’s just what scientific researchers do to fuzzy little animals, they tested out a new drug and…
When applied to the cochlea, the drug inhibited a signal generated by a protein called “Notch” on the surface of the cells that surround hair cells. This resulted in these supporting cells turning into new hair cells, which led to a partial recovery in the hearing of the mice.
This is a pretty big deal because before this, we weren’t really sure mammals could even regrow auditory hair cells in the first place.
This serving as a cure for hearing loss in humans is a long way away. It still needs to be tested on animals and checked for side effects. But soon the day may come when understanding what those damn kids and their loud music is all about is as simple as popping a pill or sticking a swab impregnated with gunk in your ear.
Now perhaps, science, we could work out a way to make the elderly drive faster?