The Quest for a Cure

Will there ever be a treatment for hearing loss? A drug perhaps or some genetic wizardry? I spoke with a scientist who has devoted his career to the research necessary to answer those questions.

I want a life without hearing aids. But I can’t wind back the clock, and today there’s no alternative because there’s no cure and no biological treatment available for sensorineural hearing loss.

But there are glimmers of hope. Scientists around the world are working on it, and one of the best is here in Toronto.

Dr. Alain Dabdoub has the only lab in Canada that’s doing the pure research necessary to understand how our hearing develops and functions on a cellular level. He’s doing the spade work that may one day reveal possible treatments.

He graciously allowed me, and my trusty iphone, into his lab at the Sunnybrook Research Institute to ask him a few simple questions.

My Parents’ Struggle

My mother suffers from severe hearing loss. Hearing aids don’t help her much now. But, as he explains in this guest post, my father has found a simple device that helps them communicate.

By Charles Cook

My wife’s hearing has deteriorated to the point where even the most sophisticated modern hearing aid fails to provide relief. I’ve always been told that my voice, which won oratory medals at college, is very clear and strong.  But even so, now that we’re both in our eighties, conversation with her has become almost impossible.  Every other word is a challenge.

We had finally resorted to simply writing down important information.  But then I remembered a device we had used when her hearing first became a problem. Continue reading “My Parents’ Struggle”

Hearing Help from the Bottom of the Sea?

A small marine creature may hold the key to reversing hearing loss.

Photograph: Chiara Sinigaglia
The Starlet Sea Anemone Photograph: Chiara Sinigaglia

The Starlet Sea Anemone (Nematostella vectensis) is a fairly simple animal with a very basic sense of hearing. But it can pull off a very neat trick.

It has hair cells that sprout from its tentacles and detect vibrations. Human beings also rely on hair cells to detect the vibrations that form sound.  But unlike humans, the anemone can regenerate its lost or damaged hair cells.

Now Dr. Glen Watson of the University of Louisiana, Lafayette appears to have figured out how they do it, and his research may have exciting implications in the search for a treatment to reverse hearing loss in humans.

The full story can be found here in The Economist and there’s another article explaining his research in the U.K.s Daily Mail.