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Medicine Music Science

Drug Allows Deafened Mice to Regrow Inner Ear Hair 80

sciencehabit writes "All you graying, half-deaf Def Leppard fans, listen up. A drug applied to the ears of mice deafened by noise can restore some hearing in the animals. By blocking a key protein, the drug allows sound-sensing cells that are damaged by noise to regrow. The treatment isn't anywhere near ready for use in humans, but the advance at least raises the prospect of restoring hearing to some deafened people."
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Drug Allows Deafened Mice to Regrow Inner Ear Hair

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  • But... (Score:5, Funny)

    by bmo ( 77928 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @02:12PM (#42548363)

    But I have hair in my ears. I need it under my hat!


  • Sweet. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <> on Thursday January 10, 2013 @02:13PM (#42548387) Homepage Journal

    maybe they can cure tinnitus .

    • by Bigbutt ( 65939 )

      Yea, that's what I was going to say. And remove scar tissue from busted ear drums.


    • I would love a cure for my tinnitus. 20 years of ringing in my ears is more than enough. Maybe thats why I am crazy...

    • Re:Sweet. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 10, 2013 @02:55PM (#42549027)


      Advice to those younger than me: WEAR FRIGGEN EAR PLUGS. It doesn't matter how dorky you think it looks. You WILL regret it if you don't.

      A few years in college of night clubs, concerts, and parties was enough to set off a lifetime of tinnitus.

      My ears ring constantly and it will never, ever stop.

      • Re:Sweet. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @03:14PM (#42549323) Journal

        Ear plugs are the greatest. I wear Ety plugs whenver I go to a concert. These have fairly flat frequency response, and are pretty comfortable too. I was third row center at Phish with these, and had no ringing, fuzziness or any other hearing problems immediately afterwards. I've seen other LOUD concerts in small venues, P-Funk, Buckethead, shitty local punk bands, etc. with similar results. Honestly, once the levels get high enough you get more distortion without earplugs than with them.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        ...the current evidence shows that Tinnitus is actually a neurological problem (the sound comes from the brain part of the ear, not the sound-sensing cells themselves) and that treatment for it (the actually effective but only available from about six psychologists in the entire world kind) is a highly-specialized variant of phantom limb pain treatment.

        Based on that knowledge I decided to do some experiments with my own Tinnitus.....sitting in a relatively quiet room so the ringing was quite clear, turning

        • I think that's for some different form of Tinnitus. For instance, mine is 100% caused by excess fluid in my ear causing pressure on my nerves and such, basically an allergy. I've been to numerous Doctors and specialists. That being said, It gets so loud sometimes, not even fans or any loud noise can quell it, I have almost taught myself to ignore it but I wish it away so many times. If anyone is listening, please help us. =(
        • by gr8dude ( 832945 )

          There is a university in Texas that works on a solution to this problem, please consider making a donation: []

          What you write makes sense, and this is the approach taken by the researches mentioned above. I suspect that the method should work, because there are similar stories (related to other types of issues) discussed in:
          - the brain that changes itself
          - Dr. Ramachandran's stories about his patients

          How long did it take you to learn to influence it that way?

          I've do

      • I would be willing to pay a few tens of thousands of dollars to get SILENCE back.
      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Hate to bust your bubble moron, but every person on the planet does not damage the sight by "LOOKING AT THE FUCKING SUN", 'grr', there are many ways you can harm your sight just like there are many ways you hearing can be damaged, infection by disease just the most obvious example, this from a fellow suffer who obviously did not spend a huge amount of time in noisy environments. So a cure would still be appreciated and ear plugs do nothing for infections other than obviously increase the risk of one.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      it may not be a cure, but Otosound ( has a therapy device they are working on, and I've overheard some talk of clinical trials in Europe.
    • by mcspoo ( 933106 )
      As a deaf person now using Cochlear Implant(s), this would be so nice... except having a Cochlear implant probably precludes this from working for me (unless it repairs the damaged cillia in the ear as well.
      • Ditto. But only in my right ear, the better one at the time. On the other hand, I'm not sure if I'd like to return to 24/7 sound. I like being able to tune things out as needed.
    • for these poor little guys [].
    • by gr8dude ( 832945 )

      I have it too and I've been experimenting with various methods of living with it. It does not bother me during the day, when there are various ambient sounds, but it becomes a problem when I am trying to fall asleep.

      The method I found reasonably effective is falling asleep while playing an audiobook or podcast, for details: []

      On a side note, there are quite a lot of comments posted by people with this condition. Does it feel that Tinnitus is a com

  • What, hey?
  • ... than the hearing of younger music fans listening to todays music. It's well established recording levels on newer, digitally mixed music is higher and features fewer audio low points than music from the early 90's and prior.

    Also consider ear buds are the new norm for most music players, delivering sound directly to the ear canal. Your parents had walkmen with crappy foam headphones that didn't stay centered over the ear all that well.

    • I'm not sure that follows. Listeners compensate for both of these things by cranking up the volume only to be way over tolerance when the song goes from low point to high point or when the foam headphones shift back into place.

      Which is worse for ears? Semi-loud music for 10 minutes or 10 seconds of over-the-top loud? It doesn't seem unreasonable to expect the opposite effect with flatter dynamics and a more physically stable listening device.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Well, no, I think you're wrong and have it backwards. Listen to an old LP like Boston or Santana Abraxis and you're going to have to have it cranked to hear the soft parts while the loud parts will be LOUD. Back then, audio engineers did all they could to put that last decibel of dynamic range to use. Despite the fact that CDs have a superior range, today's engineers (like you say) have it all cranked. So you're not going to be listening to Pantera as loud as you listened to Led Zeppelin*.

      That said, the onl

      • Back then, audio engineers did all they could to put that last decibel of dynamic range to use.

        But the key here is range ... as in it has highs and lows. Contrast that with someone like Nickelback, where everything is at a constant volume all the time. I found this interesting [] in terms of showing the differences.

        I'm 60 and have been listening to loud rock all my life

        And this is what's wrong with the world, old geezers are still in control of rock music. You're supposed to be listening to easy listening

        • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

          But the key here is range ... as in it has highs and lows. Contrast that with someone like Nickelback, where everything is at a constant volume all the time.

          That was exactly my point. Listen to Nickleback at three and you;ll hear every note. Listen to Zeppelin's "The Ocean" (on LP, they stupidly compressed the dynamics on the CD) and if it isn't cranked to ten, the soft part in the middle is inaudible. Which is why the older music would have been harder on the ears.

          And this is what's wrong with the world,

    • Because the decibel scale is logarithmic, hearing damage is not something most music listeners subject themselves to except at concerts and dance parties. People are much less likely to turn up their headphones until they feel pain than they are to go to a concert and accept a bit of pain in exchange for the experience.
      • It might be true that most listeners aren't subjecting themselves to great damage over their headphones, but even then I think you're drawing too quick a conclusion with too little data. And certainly on the (not-too-uncommon) instances when I can listen to the music of the guy sitting a few seats down from me on the bus through his headphones, I think there's likely some damage going on there.

        Note also that the threshold of pain for hearing is often measured well above where damage starts to occur. Malada

        • Alright. I dug up some further numbers. Most sources recommend keeping exposure below 85 dB. Prolonged exposure to 90 dB and above can cause hearing loss, and pain begins at 120-125 dB. With the right headphones, the old iPod Nano puts out 90 dB at half volume, which is enough to cause permanent damage after eight hours of continuous exposure. So, yeah, you're thoroughly right. Forget the logarithmic thing; I had that backwards. Definitely been too long since I looked at sound stats.

          Don't be so quick to jud

          • Of course you're right, the bleeding audio comment was more of a "damn kids and your music" than a scientific remark. It would actually depend on everything from the design of the headphones to the shape of the listener's ear and its orientation relative to me. I still think it's a reasonable intuition when it's coming over iPod earbuds, leaky as they may be.

    • I am a middle-aged fan of Def Leppard, a mild tinnitus sufferer (starting as early in childhood as I can remember -- so probably neurological), and a weekend warrior front-of-house sound engineer. I think you are completely correct, and not just because of the dynamic range issues you mention.

      Despite being a fan since the Hysteria years, it was only about a year and a half ago that I first went to a Def Leppard concert. Knowing that there could be problems and that I value my hearing, I made sure to bring

  • by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @02:19PM (#42548489)

    "the drug allows sound-sensing cells that are damaged by noise to regrow."

    So those of us half deaf from other causes are still out of luck? Way to lead me on, Slashdot.

  • There is no hair in the inner ear. Even the submitter didn't RTFA, apparently...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 10, 2013 @02:20PM (#42548513)

    Deaf people re-growing inner ear parts...
    Blind people re-growing eyes and optic nerves...
    Alcoholics re-growing a liver...
    Soldiers re-growing limbs....

    It's all possible, given time to develop these things... EXCEPT...

    I just can't grow a set of balls and stand up to my wife!

  • Alternate use. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @02:28PM (#42548615)

    Could this be used to reverse or at least slow down age-related hearing loss? People are living so much longer than they used to, so we need every medical trick we can devise to lessen the detriments of age.

    • Last I checked, old people do not need any help growing more hair in their ears ... seriously though, I would guess that this kind of damage is one of the leading causes of age-related hearing loss so yes it would probably help in at least some cases.
    • They administered the drug the day after the damage occurred. The article states that it is not clear whether it would be effective for long term hearing loss. The actual study is behind a paywall but the highlights don't seem to indicate any perceived limitation based on time. They state that:

      hair cell generation resulted from transdifferentiation of supporting cells.

      My (completely uneducated) guess would be that it should restore some level of hearing in age related cases since it is inducing new cell growth not just healing or multiplying existing cells.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Could this be used to reverse or at least slow down age-related hearing loss?

      I could be mistaken, but I think what most call "age related" just means that the damage to your ears over the years is cumulative. If I'm right, then yes, it would.

      People are living so much longer than they used to

      Only statistically; individuals are still having heart attacks in their forties and cancers even among children. The reason the statistics say we're living longer is because some diseases and injuries that would previous

      • by cusco ( 717999 )
        Doesn't even require damage to the ears in many cases. There can be a hereditary component to hearing loss (which I've been unlucky enough to inherit) which is progressive and irreversible. Live in a nice quiet environment your whole life and you can still lose your hearing.

        A major component in the rise in average life expectancy is reduced child and infant mortality. If a family had 10 kids, lost 5 of them in infancy, and the rest lived to all be 100 the average life expectancy for the family is stil
      • The age-statistic is even less usefull: Many infant deaths have been solved. This bumps up the average age a lot, without raising the maximum age. Aging problems are a result from the maximum age, not simply the average. Better would be to use the average age of people who get older than 50 (for example).
        BTW: The maximum age is higher than it was 100 years ago, but not as much as the average age.
    • Not everybody with noise-related hearing loss got it from concerts. I got mine from exposure to outbound shore bombardment [] back in Tonkin Gulf in '72, making it service connected. Free hearing aids are nice, but I'd rather have my hearing back. I hope they get this working in humans in time for me to benefit, as well as a friend [] with similar issues from Korea.
  • by sandytaru ( 1158959 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @02:29PM (#42548633) Journal
    The tech guys had a big meter with numbers on it that seemed to also be "dancing" in time with the music. Mostly wobbling between 110 and 118 with some fractions in between. I had earplugs in, but after a while I realized it was ensuring that the decibels never got above 120, the point at which permanent hearing loss occurs.
    • Good job on the earplugs.

      But the reason why they had the volume meter is not because they care about your hearing, but for legal reasons. There is normally a restriction on the maximum volume level allowed. Some venues even have an automatic cutoff so that if the volume stays above a particular threshold for a particular amount of time, BOOM, OFF GOES YOUR PA. Terrifying when you're the sound person doing a big gig that people have paid lots of money for.
  • I'm not just a client...

  • Can you repeat that? I can't hair you? :)
  • I started having ear hairs sprouting in my late thirties.

  • I'm reading this two minutes after pulling apart a Peavey RAGE guitar amp and showing my daughter how to play Marissa Paternoster's shred near the middle of "I Don't Mind It".

  • Too late for those of us from the Def Leppard era (I was never a fan, but there was lots of other loud music going on). Might be just in time for the kids of today from the One Direction era (Ha Ha - that's how your generation is going to be defined!!!)

  • ....That this news really needs to fall on deaf ears to be appreciated.
  • Very relevant post to me - massive Def Leppard fan (35 years old) and have mild tinnitus in one ear from getting headbutted in a soccer game which also burst my ear drum. It would be awesome if there was something they could do to fix my hearing - the ringing is very high pitched, so gets lost amongst ambient sounds, but the real annoying thing is that semi-loud music now distorts in that ear for some reason. I still remember going to concerts in the early 90s like White Zombie where they had posters up a
    • by ckedge ( 192996 )

      Might not be relevant to me. :(

      There's a huge fraction of Tinnitus sufferers whose Tinnitus is *not* caused by loud music. They can tell because the hearing loss is in the mid-range, whereas loud music loss is at the high and the low ends. In our cases it develops in your 30's to 50's -- with no known cause. They figure it may have more to do with the brain!

      My ability to hear things is not actually impaired when they test it. When they test it they can't see a difference between the two ears. But in on

  • I'm hard of hearing. It's not because of noise, I actually can't stand loud sounds at all. It just runs in the family. I've got it, so does dad, so did grandpa, and so on.

    While *any* advance in restoring hearing is nice, how about concentrating on helping those of us who never had a choice, rather than those who just stood too close to the speakers?

  • Although admittedly I'll be more excited when then can give the Three Blind Mice back their sight.
  • This is really good. As of now we can say that some useful transdifferentiation is on the way. Of course this woudnt be so easy in organs with a much complex structure, like the retina, but still a great step forward. We already know that some cells can migrate in the adult brain, like those renewed for smelling. It may only take time for 1+1=2! For funding, research and peer finding please refer to the non-profit Aging Portfolio.

Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you. -- Thomas Jefferson