And that, in turn, has led to the development of multiple potential treatments for the hearing impaired, from drug therapy to gene editing. 

Stem cell therapy is among those potential treatments. Although not yet FDA-approved (and unlikely to be available to the public for some time), evidence suggests that stem cells can be used to regenerate damaged tissue in the inner ear, including the stereocilia. As reported by WebMD, this is primarily because transplanted stem cells are essentially cellular changelings.

That is to say, a stem cell can change its form and function to that of whatever cells happen to surround it. Researchers have managed to restore hearing function to animals via inner ear stem cell transplants in preclinical trials on animals. The National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBI) has also successfully grown human stereocilia in a petri dish. 

According to a brief published by the NCBI's National Library of Medicine, the aural transplant of stem cells also appears to have an extremely high success rate. For stereocilia, 82% of initial transplants were successful. For auditory nerve cells, that number was much higher, at 100%.

It's incredibly promising, to say the least, even if we're likely still several decades away from the technique reaching the broader medical community. What's more, even when stem cell treatment of hearing loss has passed clinical trials, we may not see it leveraged to reverse hearing loss right away. Per NCBI's brief, we're far likelier to see stem cell treatments used to treat auditory neuropathy and make cochlear implants more accessible for patients. 

It's important to note at this point that although stem may seem like a magic bullet for everything from hearing loss to genetic disorders, there's no such thing as a one size fits all treatment where medicine is concerned. Until clinical trials have concluded and the results are published, we have no way of knowing how effective — and more importantly, how safe — stem cell treatment is for humans. All we can do at this point is wait and see.

One thing is certain, though. One way or another, we appear to stand on the cusp of reversing a condition previously believed to be untreatable. Whether noise-induced, age-related, or genetic, a few decades from now, hearing impairment might well become a thing of the past, and even the most severe cases of hearing loss may no longer be irreversible. 

We don't know about you, but as far as we're concerned, that's music to our ears.