If you have a hearing loss, you’ll probably know that this can be as a result of damage to the specialist hair cells that are found in the inner ear. These cells are crucial for hearing, because they either amplify sounds that come into the ear, or change sound waves into electrical signals for the brain to interpret.
Now, a study by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) in the US has determined the role that a critical protein plays in the development of these special inner ear hair cells. The researchers, keen to understand how these cells develop, have found that the protein, called GFI1, may be critical for determining whether an embryonic hair cell matures into a functional adult hair cell or becomes a different cell that functions more like a nerve cell or neuron. This discovery could lead scientists to be able to find ways to generate new hair cells from stem cells when old hair cells are damaged due to age or exposure to loud noise.
We’re delighted to hear how, according to Dr Roona Herzano, who headed up the study, “Hearing research has been going through a Renaissance period, not only from advances in genomics and methodology, but also thanks to its uniquely collaborative nature among researchers.” The proteins are now being tested to see if they can be used to regenerate lost hair cells and restore hearing for millions of people worldwide. Exciting times indeed.
If you feel that your hearing isn’t as good as it used to be, don’t leave it any longer to have a hearing test. At The Hearing Clinic, we’re running Covid-safe appointments, so call our expert team at The Hearing Clinic on 01923 372101 (Radlett) or 01462 506074 (Hitchin) to book your hearing test. Or click here to fill in our contact form.