What's Going On With Hair Cell Research and Hearing Loss?
As many of you may know, hearing loss due to life and aging is often due to the deterioration of the tiny hair cell structures deep within our inner ears. When people come in for a hearing evaluation, the question is often asked of us, “if we could regrow those hair cells that have deteriorated from aging or noise, could we hear better”? Our usual answer was always: “We can’t do that yet”! Well, here is some exciting and groundbreaking research that we at Audiology Innovations are following.
A private company known as Frequency Therapeutics is the first to show human research results of outer hair cell regrowth using medication known as FX-322.
- This treatment has been shown to be safe
- Word recognition shown to improve slightly in some test patients
- One dose worked better than multiple doses
- Ultra high frequencies improved first
Published in Otology and Neurotology (March 2021). Adults with acquired SNHL phase 1/2 study.
This is amazing research and a reason for our entire field to be excited. However, I caution readers to be aware of two very important points:
This research is in its infancy. After one study showed improved results in the test cases, the next one showed the same improvement in the placebo group. We are still looking at such small numbers of participants that we have to be cautious of the implications we can apply to each study’s results.
IF and WHEN (and I believe we will get there) hearing loss patients can eventually receive a medication to treat and regrow their hair cells, it will be CRITICALLY IMPORTANT that the receptor of sound information (ie. our auditory part of our brain) has been well cared for. This means that people who have taken care of their hearing loss vs. those who have not, will be better candidates for this treatment.
Remember that once our auditory system stops receiving auditory input, the cells in the auditory cortex atrophy permanently. If this is the case, it does NOT matter what input the hair cells send to the brain. The brain would not be able to receive the sound information and make any sense of it.
If you are already a hearing aid user, I applaud you and encourage you to wear your hearing devices consistently to keep your auditory system appropriately stimulated.
If you have been humming and hawing about taking action, now is the time.
So although this research is extremely exciting, it makes me have an even stronger evidence-based opinion of the critical importance of early treatment of hearing loss.
REACH OUT TO AUDIOLOGY INNOVATIONS IN CALGARY TODAY
Audiology Innovations is a hearing clinic in Calgary. We stay on the cutting-edge of hearing research and technology in order to bring you the best possible results for your hearing loss treatments. From hearing aids and ear protection to a listening program known as LACE (Listening And Communication Enhancement), our audiologists ensure a thorough evaluation of your hearing is performed so that we can make the correct diagnosis and treatment for you. If you or someone you care about suffers from challenges with their hearing, do not delay. Contact us to help them get on track. Your brain health and the opportunity to take advantage of scientific developments in our field depends on it. We have multiple locations throughout Calgary for your convenience. Reach out to our hearing clinic in Calgary today!