A new study has suggested that people with hearing loss could be able to have their hearing restored.
According to scientists in the US, it may be possible to restore the tiny hair cells in human ears which contribute to hearing loss by being damaged by loud noises.
The tiny specialised hairs detect vibrations which are processed as sound by the brain, but once they are damaged or lost cannot at present be replaced.
However, the experts from the US have published a report in Nature which suggests that it may be possible to take different cells from the inner ear which can differentiate into sensory hair cells.
The news could help thousands of people who have lost their hearing over time to have it restored almost completely.
The research, carried out on mice, may therefore be able to help the one in 24 people worldwide who suffer disabling hearing loss.