Future Developments - A guide to Hearing Loss

Research is currently being undertaken with the aim of learning more about the causes of hearing loss. From this advanced forms of treatment will be developed to repair or even reverse hearing loss.

Hearing loss can occur for any number of reasons. Over exposure to noise or music from an MP3 player, an ear condition such as otitis media or a genetic condition, for example Usher’s syndrome can all result in hearing loss.

The ageing process is responsible for most forms of hearing loss: known as ‘presbycusis’ this is a gradual process which eventually results in a permanent loss of hearing.

At present, hearing loss which has occurred as a result of growing older or noise damage cannot be reversed. However researchers are looking at ways of reversing this by using stem cells or gene therapy.

Stem cells and hearing loss

Stem cell research is still in its infancy but has the potential for a whole new range of treatments for progressive and degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, spinal cord injuries and deafness.

Stem cells are incredibly versatile, have the ability to self-reproduce and in many cases, transform themselves into specialist cells with specific tasks. This means that they could replace any type of damaged cell within the body, for example damaged hair cells within the cochlea.

This is discussed in greater detail in our stem cell research section.

Gene Therapy and hearing loss

Research is currently being undertaken into this to see if it could potentially, be a cure for deafness.

Gene therapy involves replacing cells, which contain a damaged gene, with a healthy version (or a copy of a healthy gene). This healthy gene would replicate the original function of the faulty (or damaged cells).

However this is viewed as a controversial therapy and one that requires more study and clinical trials before it is considered to be a viable form of treatment.

This is discussed in more detail in our gene therapy section.

Treatments : A guide to Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss

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