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Regaining hearing may be possible by reproducing mechanisms found in birds

udito

Humans are unable to reverse the effects of hearing loss, but a biological process identified in other animal species may offer an unexpected way to address this widespread problem.

Advancing age or excessive exposure to loud noises can damage the cochlea, a component of the inner ear, causing permanent hearing loss. According to the World Health Organization, a reduction, more or less severe, in hearing affects more than 400 million people worldwide today. Traditional treatment involves the use of hearing aids, the effectiveness of which is highly dependent on the individual.

But scientists have long known that animals such as fish and birds are able to keep their hearing intact by regenerating sensory cells in the cochlea-in fact, mammals are the only vertebrates that are unable to do so.

Back in 2012, Patricia White of the University of Rochester identified a group of receptors responsible for the regeneration process that can activate supporting cells in the auditory system of birds: they called them epidermal growth factor, or Egf. These supporting cells then activate the production of new sensory hair cells.

Now, in a new study that has been published in the European Journal of Neuroscience, Dr. White explains that she has begun a series of experiments to recreate this process in mammals. “The process of hearing repair ,” said the researcher. – is a complex problem and requires a series of cellular events. Sensory cilia cells in the ear need to be regenerated, and these cells need to function properly and connect with the corresponding network of neurons. Our research has identified a signaling pathway that can be activated by different methods and could represent a new approach to cochlear regeneration and, ultimately, hearing restoration.”

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