HEARING RESTORATION PROJECT
ColLABORATION TO ADVANCE CURES
Hearing Health Foundation (HHF)’s Hearing Restoration Project (HRP) is the first international research consortium focused on investigating hair cell regeneration as a cure for hearing loss and tinnitus.
The overarching principle of the HRP consortium is cross-discipline collaboration: open sharing of data and ideas. By having almost immediate access to each other’s data, HRP scientists are able to perform follow-up experiments much faster, rather than having to wait years until data is published.
Primary treatments for hearing loss have been hearing aids and cochlear implants. While these have been successful, they have limitations. Most people who have lost hearing have done so through noise damage or aging, and may be candidates for hair cell regeneration or restoration.
The HRP uses three different animal models for studying inner ear hair cell regeneration. Two of those models, the chick and zebrafish, show robust hair cell regeneration. If the hair cells of a chick or a fish are damaged, within a short time—only a day or two for the fish, a few weeks for the chick—new hair cells are formed. That’s a spectacular result, and it tells us that animals are capable of regenerating hair cells.
The mouse is our other experimental model. Like in humans, the mouse shows no hair cell regeneration; once damaged, hair cells are not restored. But if we use what we know about fish and birds to determine how to regenerate hair cells in the mouse, then we will be able to regenerate hair cells in people.
WHO COMPRISES THE HRP?
The HRP consortium is formed by top-tier auditory and vestibular research professionals at Baylor College of Medicine, Imperial College London, Mass. Eye and Ear, Oregon Health & Science University, Stanford University, Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Sunnybrook Research Institute, University of Maryland School of Medicine, University of Michigan, University of Southern California, University of Washington, and Washington University School of Medicine. Read about each HRP consortium member's scientific focus areas and interest in Spotlight On.