Researchers in the US have used protein manipulation tools to restore the hearing of mice that have been partly deafened by noise.
Conducted by the University of Michigan and published in the medical journal eLife, the study was able to build on research highlighting the importance of the protein NT3 in maintaining communication between the ears and brain.
“Scientists have been able to restore hearing in noise-deafened mice, suggesting a new way of treating hearing issues.“
The team was then able to use a special genetic technique to help mice produce additional NT3 in cells of specific areas of the inner ear, allowing them to partially regain the ability to hear following ear damage.
These new findings could potentially pave the way for research in humans that could improve treatment of hearing loss, both in terms of cases caused by noise exposure and those resulting from normal ageing.
Study leader Dr Gabriel Corfas, director of the University of Michigan's Kresge Hearing Research Institute, said: "We began this work 15 years ago to answer very basic questions about the inner ear and now we have been able to restore hearing after partial deafening with noise, a common problem for people."
Data from Action on Hearing Loss has suggested that more than ten million people in the UK have some degree of hearing impairment or deafness - around one-sixth of the population.See all the latest jobs in Science