Latest research has shown that human stem cell could be used to recover hearing. This research was conducted on gerbils (small rodent) suffering from deafness but when human embryonic cells were given the deafness was reversed.
It’s a proof of concept, and it’s important because for the first time we’ve shown stem cells can be used to repair the ear,” New Scientist quoted Marcelo Rivolta of the University of Sheffield, UK, and head of the team that treated the gerbils, as saying.
Researchers used partily matured stem cells which were then injected into cochlea. They found that 9 out of 18 treated animals showed substantial recovery from deafness after 10 weeks.
Dr Marcelo Rivolta, who led the research, reported in the journal Nature, said: “Stem cells have been used in animal models of deafness before, mostly the mouse, with different results, but none have shown functional recovery. What we have shown here is functional recovery using human stem cells, which is unique. As a proof-of-concept we have shown that human stem cells can be used to repair the ear.”
“The final aim is to take this into a clinical application, but we are really at the first stage of the story,” said Dr Rivolta. “There is still a long way to go. It’s difficult to say when we might be able to treat patients. We’re hoping in a few years, but first we need to understand more about the biology of the system and whether it is sustainable in time and safe.”
Each gerbil received 50,000 cells for deafness cure.
Dr Ralph Holme, from the charity Action on Hearing Loss which partly funded the studies, said: “The research… is tremendously encouraging and gives us real hope that it will be possible to fix the actual cause of some types of hearing loss in the future.
“For the millions of people for whom hearing loss is eroding their quality of life, this can’t come soon enough.”
Source: Yahoo News