UNDATED (WKRC) - Researchers may have found a way of reversing hearing loss with a new developing treatment.
Frequency Therapeutics, a spinout of MIT, is researching a new kind of therapy that could repair the hair cells that allow people to hear.
Hair cells detect sound, but they begin dying off after exposure to loud noises or drugs.
However, Frequency Therapeutics is testing a way to use small molecules to program progenitor cells, which are descendants of stem cells.
They are placed in the inner ear and replace the hair cells that have died.
More than 200 patients have undergone the regenerative therapy in four tests, three of which proved effective.
The company has seen positive results when testing speech perception, which Frequency co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer Chris Loose Ph.D. says, “is the number one goal for improving hearing.”
Frequency Therapeutics hopes to have another trial of 124 people with results available by 2023.
If it proves successful, there could be a widespread testing of the new therapy that would be easier to administer to the general public.
Jeff Karp, a Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology affiliate faculty member, says that the treatment might evolve into a procedure that could be conducted in a matter of hours.
Karp said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if in 10 or 15 years, because of the resources being put into this space and the incredible science being done.
We can get to the point where reversing hearing loss would be similar to Lasik surgery, where you’re in and out in an hour or two and you can completely restore your vision.”