Can you hear me now? Good.

If someone tells you to stop listening to that ridiculously loud music on your iPod because they think you’re gonna go deaf, it might be a good idea to do that (don’t worry I am guilty of it as well..), but for those who can’t resist the thumping of the bass, the incredibly mind spinning surround sound musical experience, have no fear. Harvard Medical School is here.

rows of hair cells

rows of hair cells

Researchers at HMS and Massachusetts Eye and Ear have found a potential cell therapy for those with damaged hair cells that are a big proponent of why we can hear. In mammals, hair cells are found in the organ of Corti, a part of the ear in the cochlea of the inner ear. These receptors of sound which are responsible for our sense of hearing do not directly send neural signals to our brain. Instead they amplify sound that enters the cochlea and then turn that sound vibration into electrical signals by causing ion channels to open in their cell membrane. An action potential is created when the cell is polarized and that sends signals to our brain. This is why we can jam out to our favorite tunes.

Anatomy of the Ear

Anatomy of the Ear

However, in mammals, these hair cells do not regenerate when damaged or destroyed…uh oh…however, researchers discovered a way to induce the regeneration of these hair cells that improved loss of hearing. Researchers developed a drug that when added to stem cells from mice ears could cause the hair cells to regenerate. When applying this drug to the deaf mice, their hearing improved where there were new hair cells. The drug works by inhibiting an enzyme called gamma-secretase. This enzyme works in a cell pathway, called the Notch pathway that, when active, inhibits surrounding cells from differentiating into a neuron. However, when the enzyme that works in this pathway is inhibited, the Notch pathway is inhibited thus causing supporting cells to turn into new hairs cells.

hair cells....being craycray DAYUM

hair cells….being craycray DAYUM

This new discovery excites researchers because it is the first case where hair cells were regenerated in adult mammals of any organism. This could be used as a future drug to cure hearing loss in individuals, so blasters of music, you have less to worry about….but be careful! Research is always in motion, dynamic, and awesome.

Here is the article found on Harvard Medical School’s website:

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5 Responses to Can you hear me now? Good.

  1. Anurag Sen says:

    I used to listen to music at a lower volume. Although, now I am starting to use louder volumes. I have found that it I put music on a louder volume to drown out all the outside noise around me so I can focus on the music or sometimes my own thoughts. However, after reading your blog, I am having some doubts and considering listening to music at a more reasonable volume. Its interesting how some hair cells can determine whether you can listen or not. This was a cool and informative post.

  2. May says:

    oOoOooh! I always learn about the most interesting things from your posts. I’ve always been overly conscious about how loud I have my music on, especially when I’ve got headphones in.
    I can’t help but wonder, though, whether or not such a drug could have a negative influence, a side effect on human beings, since a lot of things tend to work that way…I think…what do I know, I’m terrible at anything involving the sciences.

  3. Mike Stavrakos says:

    This is a great blog, it’s so insightful and interesting. I had no idea this was why people begin to lose their hearing. Also, it seems that discoveries such as this only add to the push for stem cell research, so we might see some incredible breakthroughs come down the pike in a few short years.

  4. Austin Marlowe says:

    Now this justifies always yelling at my siblings to turn their music down if it is to loud. I always try to keep my ipod music so that it cant be heard unless its actually in my ears, not only is is terrible for your hearing to have it audible to the surrounding people but kinda rude.

  5. Mackenzie Schrock says:

    I am not normally one to read a passion blog that has a medical related theme, but yours was not the boring medical blog I was envisioning. This blog was really interesting because of the fact that the drug is the first of its kind. If we can help people will hearing loss in the future, that would be awesome. Luckily for me, I can not stand music that is too loud so I always keep mine relatively quiet!

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