Have you been listening to too much Lady Gaga recently? Music aficionados have always known that listening to too much Gaga can lead to head bobbing, constant toe tapping and the shakes but now recent studies have shown you might also need to worry about hearing loss. Mark Fishman, the head of Novartis Institutes for Biomedical research, notes that hearing loss among adolescents is caused from “A little too much Lady Gaga.” Whether or not it’s from too much Lady Gaga, in-house studies have discovered that around 36 million Americans may have some form of hearing loss.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, the rates of hearing loss are high in the music industry and are rising among children and adolescents under 19 and near 13% of these teenagers have permanent damage from excessive noise exposure.
Blasting ‘Poker Face’ in your ears may not be a problem anymore. Novartis Ag and its partner GenVec are developing a gene therapy to reverse hearing loss. Their treatment will stimulate the growth of microscopic hair cells in the inner ear that allow people to hear. These hairs can be destroyed due to prolonged exposure to loud noises.
The treatment involves delivering a disabled cold-causing virus to supporting cells in the inner ear. The virus contains a gene called atonal-1 which alerts the cells to grow into hair cells. Yet delivering the virus into the inner ear involves drilling a tiny hole in a bone called the stapes and injecting the drug with a needle.
Novartis plans on testing the treatment on 45 patients with results expected by 2017. As an old man I was hoping to use my hearing loss as an advantage. Looks like my dreams of turning off my hearing aids at dinner parties have been shattered.