3

As someone with significant bilateral hearing loss for several years, I was really disappointed to learn that the Progenitor Cell Activation procedure from Frequency Therapeutics had failed horribly, so I looked up other regenerative modalities, including gene therapy and nanotechnology.

One of those gene therapy options mentions a protein named otoferlin, which evidently plays a crucial role in sending electrical signals into the brain. However, the therapy was performed on children, from what I read, which makes me wonder why it can't work in adults, since my understanding is that most of the cells undergo mitosis. I now that mammals cannot regenerate hair cells the way reptiles and birds can, which has stumped scientists for many decades, but I would assume they work on a similar principle that could be replicated in humans.

In fact, I thought I found another article in which nerve fibres in our nose actually do regenerate, because if they didn't, we would immediately lose our sense of smell. That actually helped somebody walk again, for I think that's what they were able to use to reconnect a spinal cord injury.

I know that for most people in my position, an audiologist would recommend a cochlear implant, but I've listened to tons of recordings and have done a lot of research on them that I wouldn't want to be bombarded by vocoded sounds that made people sound like speech synthesisers, devoid of emotion, and unrecognisable musical instruments, as someone with perfect pitch, an old soul and an empath. Some people might argue that listening to distorted speech is better than not being able to hear anything at all, but at the same time, there's nothing like listening to genuine speech and other sounds.

1 Answer 1

3

Brains don't come pre-equipped to understand sensory input, brains form learned associations with different inputs and contexts. Critical periods are times in development where these processes happen, and while they are not absolute in most cases the brain of a child is in a much better state for this learning. For cochlear implants, too, it is preferred that they be placed as soon as possible so that a developing child learns to interpret the signals.

So, in summary, it's not just about "fixing" the problem where it occurs, by replacing or repairing hair cells, let's say, it's that the entire rest of the brain has to develop to use those cells, and if it hasn't, then adding the sensory cells back in doesn't have much use. Other examples you've given like olfactory sensory neurons are specialized for replacement and those specializations are not present in other sensory organs where replacement doesn't occur.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.