Human Embryonic Stem Cells Could Help to Treat Deafness
A cure for deafness is a step closer after University of Sheffield scientists used human embryonic stem cells to treat a common form of hearing loss.
Human stem cell-derived otic neurons repopulating the cochlea of deaf gerbils. Human cells are labelled green, and the red is a marker of neuronal differentiation. Therefore yellow cells are neurons of human origin
In research funded by the Medical Research Council and leading UK research charity, Action on Hearing Loss, experts from the University’s Department of Biomedical Sciences developed a method to turn human embryonic stem cells into ear cells.
They then transplanted them into deaf gerbils, obtaining a functional recovery that, on average, was of around 46 per cent. The improvement was evident about four weeks after administering the cells.
As well as proving that stem cells can be used to repair damaged hearing, it is hoped the breakthrough - published in the journal Nature - will lead to new treatments and therapies in the future.