The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has been working on some recent developments in hearing care – one that could have the power to improve our way of life.
Recently, they have made headlines with their work on hearing rejuvenation.
The press release that has gained attention explains how MIT has been running trials to discover “regenerative therapy” with the hope to reverse hearing loss and the damage caused to the hair cells in the ear.
Here’s What MIT Has Shared
“The biotechnology company Frequency Therapeutics is seeking to reverse hearing loss—not with hearing aids or implants but with a new kind of regenerative therapy. The company uses small molecules to program progenitor cells, a descendant of stem cells in the inner ear, to create the tiny hair cells that allow us to hear.
Hair cells die off when exposed to loud noises or drugs, including certain chemotherapies and antibiotics. Frequency’s drug candidate is designed to be injected into the ear to regenerate these cells within the cochlea.
In clinical trials, the company has already improved people’s hearing as measured by tests of speech perception—the ability to understand speech and recognize words.
In Frequency’s first clinical study, the company saw statistically significant improvements in speech perception in some participants after a single injection, with some responses lasting nearly two years.
The company has dosed more than 200 patients to date and has seen clinically meaningful improvements in speech perception in three separate clinical studies. Another study failed to show improvements in hearing compared to the placebo group, but the company attributes that result to flaws in the design of the trial.”
We never want to just settle in the world of hearing. Hearing aids provide significant benefits, no doubt. However, it’s never as good as the real thing.
The moment we stop researching things like this, we become stagnant in our professions. While hearing loss may not be life threatening, it can be a life-altering issue.
Here Are My Thoughts
This is exciting research. Of course, more research and time is needed, but this is one of the most exciting hair cell regeneration studies we have seen in quite a while.
At this time, they have only studied 200 people but are looking for another trial group. It’s a fairly small sampling at this time, but all research of this magnitude must start small, and we’re excited to keep a close eye on it.
Regenerating hair cells has been a topic of research for many years. From a pragmatic point of view, I think it’s more likely that hair cell regeneration will improve hearing loss but may not fully cure it within my lifetime.
Hair cell regeneration research is nothing new; we’ve all been talking about it since the 1970s and 1980s. If someone waited to do anything for their hearing loss at that time, they would be sorely disappointed. Even if there is a cure for hearing loss in the future, the cognitive benefit of amplification and brain stimulation is something that should be considered immediately.
Hair cell regeneration has been studied on different animals and utilizing different methods for many years. Most have, for one reason or another, faded away after the initial excitement. All it takes is one breakthrough though to change this forever.
We have to keep the entire auditory system stimulated in order to ensure that we are continuously able to process sounds, and it would be irresponsible to say that a person could simply wait for a regenerative drug to do the job.
Looking for a Solution to Hearing Loss?
If you have any questions about the status of your hearing or a loved one’s, or you would like to discuss this study, please contact us anytime.
As always, we’ll pay close attention to future trials and continue to report any meaningful updates to ensure you’re fully aware of the latest news from the hearing healthcare community.