Listen up, live music fans. The hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noise can be at least partially reversed with drugs, according to a study published by U.S. and Japanese researchers last week in the journal Neuron.
The work is the first proof that a drug can spur regeneration of the mammalian ear’s sound-detecting hair cells, which can be damaged by noise exposure. While the hair cells of some animals, such as birds, can regenerate on their own, the hair cells of humans and other mammals cannot. The cells may be damaged by infection or as a side effect of certain drugs as well as after exposure to loud noises.
Sound sensors: The delicate sound-detecting cells in the inner ear can be damaged and die after exposure to loud noises or toxic compounds (top), but they can be regenerated with a drug (bottom).