Of all the natural ailments that threaten ravers, perhaps the one most fearsome is losing our hearing. Beyond heatstroke at a day-time festival or spraining an ankle dancing too hard, hearing loss is permanent and can have a deeply negative impact on your life outside of shows and EDM culture.
It’s called tinnitus, and it occurs when there is damage or loss of the tiny sensory hair cells in the cochlea of the inner ear. This damage typically occurs as a result of the normal aging process, and from prolonged exposure to excessively loud noise, such as you would find at a music festival.
But fortunately, because this is such a widespread issue, a lot of money has gone into research for preventing and reversing hearing loss, occurring naturally or from prolonged exposure. A team of scientists at Indiana University has been able to create functioning pieces of the inner ear (complete with hair cells and neurons) using stem cell technology.
As far as anyone can tell, this is the first time that anyone has created hair cells from human pluripotent stem cells.
“It’s exciting,” study co-authors Jeffrey Holt told Gizmodo “If we’re going to use these approaches in the clinic we’ll want to start with human stem cell tissue.”
One of the next steps will be applying this technology to a human trial, but that’s likely still years away. For now, however, this is a major advancement in medical technology that should provide hope to those who are or will be suffering from hearing loss.
“The idea, to be able to one day take a tube of blood and make your hair cells and implant is really exciting. I think it’s the future,” Eric Topol, Founder and Director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in California who was not involved in the study, told Gizmodo. “It’s a biological remedy to hearing loss.”