Stem Cells May Hold the Cure for Deafness, New Study Shows

From Coding in My Sleep

It’s been estimated that there are about 28 million people in the U.S. suffering from hearing problems, and as many as 1 in a thousand are born profoundly deaf. Cochlear implants can have a dramatic effect on those whose deafness is caused by damage to sensory “hair cells” in the cochlea, but for the many whose deafness is due to damaged auditory nerves, there has been no effective treatment… until now.

It should be stressed that this isn’t an actual treatment just yet, it’s still in the animal testing stages, but those animal tests are, so far at least, very successful.

A paper published this week in the journal “Nature” describes a process by which scientists were able to coax stem cells in gerbils to differentiate into “otic progenitor cells” – cells that can develop into either hair cells or auditory nerve cells. These progenitor cells were then implanted near damaged areas of the auditory nerves and an excruciating wait began. Some time later, the results came in: nearly every deaf gerbil saw a dramatic increase in hearing, with some returning to a completely normal range of auditory response. Under a microscope, it was found that the new cells had done exactly what scientists hoped, connecting the hair cells to the brain stem as nature intended.

Read the rest of the article here: Coding in My Sleep

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