Can We Reverse Hearing Damage?

Loud music at concerts is powerful enough to cause serious hearing damage. Julian explains how it might be possible to reverse this damage.

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There's a lot of things in our daily lives that we're warned may cause hearing damage. But is how serious -- and permanent -- is hearing loss, anyway? Up until now, it's pretty much been considered a one-way street: once it starts, it's hard to reverse, and it's something that most people start to encounter as they get older.

However, scientists may have isolated the protein that might fix hearing loss. A team of scientists from the University of Michigan and Harvard Medical School genetically engineered some mice so that they produce the protein Neurotrophin-3, or NT3.

Then they exposed the mice to continued loud noises -- so loud that
the poor critters experienced partial hearing loss. The good news is that the mice with more NT3 showed improved hearing over the control group.

Researchers believe that NT3 helps a part of cochlear hearing cells known as the ribbon which, because of their ribbon-like shape, allow for the fast, precise and sustained neurotransmission needed in sensory perception.

Have you or anyone you know experienced any hearing loss? Hopefully this report will give a glimmer of hope. Be sure to share your opinions in the comments section below.

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Read More:
Noise-induced hearing loss restored in mice (via Medical News Today)
"Approximately 50 million Americans have hearing loss in at least one ear, with around 26 million Americans aged 20-69 experiencing high-frequency hearing loss as a result of noise exposure."

Therapy Cures Hearing Loss From Loud Noises (via
"Scientists restored hearing to mice that were partly deafened by noise. They did it by increasing a key protein in their ears."

Neurotrophin-3 regulates ribbon synapse density in the cochlea and induces synapse regeneration after acoustic trauma (via ELife Sciences)
"Neurotrophin-3 (Ntf3) and brain derived neurotrophic factor (Bdnf) are critical for sensory neuron survival and the establishment of neuronal projections to sensory epithelia in the embryonic inner ear, but their postnatal functions."

Ribbon synapses (Wikipedia)
"The ribbon synapse is a type of neuronal synapse characterized by unique mechanisms of multivesicular release and calcium channel positioning that promote rapid neurotransmitter release and signal transmission."

Neurotrophin-3 (Wikipedia)
"Neurotrophin-3, or NT-3, is a neurotrophic factor, in the NGF-family of neurotrophins. It is a protein growth factor that has activity on certain neurons of the peripheral and central nervous system; it helps to support the survival and differentiation of existing neurons, and encourages the growth and differentiation of new neurons and synapses."

Hearing loss and music (via NIH)
"Adults and children are commonly exposed to loud music. Between ear buds connected to iPods or MP3 players and music concerts, loud music can cause hearing loss."