New research from the University of Michigan has discovered a possible way to reverse hearing loss by boosting the production of a protein called Neurotrophin-3 (Ntf3) in the ears.
Led by Gabriel Corfas, Ph.D., Director of the University of Michigan Institute, researchers used advanced tools to induce greater production of Ntf3 in mice with noise-induced hearing loss. The mice regained their hearing abilities, highlighting the protein’s key role in ear-to-brain communication and sparking greater interest in studying Ntf3 for future hearing loss treatments.
Ntf3 is instrumental to the body’s ability to develop and maintain connections between hair cells, tiny structures in the inner ear that aid in transmitting sounds to the brain, and nerve cells. This is a special relationship called a ribbon synapse, as it allows communication signals to travel extremely quickly across small gaps between the cells.
The research team will continue to test Ntf3 and its effects on hearing loss in humans with the goal of eventually creating a drug.
The development of this technique is the latest of several recent successful attempts to restore hearing via genetic and chemical means.
Last updated: November 4, 2014