Statistics provided by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders indicate that more than thirty-six million people in the United States suffer from some form of hearing impairment. Moreover, twenty-five million are suffering from tinnitus.
It can be very annoying to live with hearing loss. Listening to your favorite music, enjoying conversations with your friends and hearing the first words of your grandchildren are small but important parts of our lives. With the loss of hearing, all these small pleasures disappear. The support of friends and family and the use of hearing aids have made things easier for people with hearing loss, but researchers are still looking for a real cure.
You might be surprised to learn that chickens are incredible at restoring their own hearing. The Hearing Health Foundation, a non-profit organization, is making use of this wonderful feature to find a cure for hearing loss in humans. Let’s learn about this research in detail.
Chickens’ Ears Are Fascinating
The supporting cells in the inner ear of chickens have the ability to substitute hair cells that have been destroyed for various reasons, including loud noises. Not only chickens, but vertebrates (except for mammals) have this remarkable ability to restore hearing loss. Preliminary laboratory research conducted on mice has revealed that their supporting cells can convert into hair cells and help to restore some of their hearing.
Researchers are hopeful of bringing a cure for hearing loss in humans. They are expecting to work on a technique by which they can coax the supporting cells in the inner ears of humans to convert into functional hair cells.
The Perfect Cure For Hearing Loss In Ten Years
Researchers are aiming to convert their theory into reality within ten years. They are planning to work on various aspects of the study, including learning the process by which supporting cells in chickens’ ears are converted into hair cells. Moreover, they are looking for possible medications to help repair hearing in humans.
To accelerate the process, the Hearing Health Foundation has started a partnership, called the Hearing Restoration Project (HRP), which combines studies from the top ten institutes, including the Harvard Medical School.
Ed Rubel, a professor of hearing science at the University of Washington is very confident about the findings so far. According to Rubel, it is possible to find an effective technique as well as some compounds that can stimulate hair cell regeneration in the human ear.
Rubel is working in his lab at the University of Washington to find out the key to a discovery that may help people restore their hair cells. He is working on developing a new mouse model to test the pathways, which will be shared with other researchers on the team to speed up the findings.
Another member of the project, Shari Eberts, is optimistic about this project. She herself is dealing with hearing loss and therefore wants to share the highlights of the project with the public. Eberts says that they are at the initial stages of the project, but she wants people to know about their determinations and that there is a hope and a cure for tinnitus and hearing loss.