Stem cells offer deafness cure

Team creates cells that could restore hearing

Researchers at Sheffield University in the UK have successfully created cells that act like sensory hair cells in the human inner ear from embryonic stem cells, offering hope to those who’ve lost hair cells due to noise damage, or those with inherited hearing problems, the BBC reports. Hair cell damage, which causes hearing problems in 10 per cent of the population worldwide, is currently irreversible; embryonic stem cells may be able to replace lost ones, as well as damaged nerve cells along which signals generated by hair cells are transmitted to the brain, as they can become any kind of cell in the human body. “The potential of stem cells is very exciting. We have now an experimental system to study genes and drugs in a human context,” said lead researcher Dr. Marcelo Rivolta. “Moreover, these cells would help us to develop the technologies needed to deliver them into damaged tissues, such as the cochlea, in order to restore the different cell types.” A cure is still years away, the team¹s now looking into whether these cells could restore hearing.

BBC News

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