Now Hear This: Deaf gerbils ’hear again’ after stem cell cure
2012 09 14

By James Gallagher | BBCNews

UK researchers say they have taken a huge step forward in treating deafness after stem cells were used to restore hearing in animals for the first time.

Hearing partially improved when nerves in the ear, which pass sounds into the brain, were rebuilt in gerbils - a UK study in the journal Nature reports.

Getting the same improvement in people would be a shift from being unable to hear traffic to hearing a conversation.

However, treating humans is still a distant prospect.

If you want to listen to the radio or have a chat with a friend your ear has to convert sound waves in the air into electrical signals which the brain will understand.

This happens deep inside the inner ear where vibrations move tiny hairs and this movement creates an electrical signal.

However, in about one in 10 people with profound hearing loss, nerve cells which should pick up the signal are damaged. It is like dropping the baton after the first leg of a relay race.

The aim of researchers at the University of Sheffield was to replace those baton-dropping nerve cells, called spiral ganglion neurons, with new ones.

[...]

Analysis: A hairy problem

While there is excitement at the prospect of using stem cells to restore nerves in the ear this exact technique will not help the vast, vast majority of people with hearing loss.

Most hearing problems are caused by damage to the tiny delicate hairs which convert mechanical vibrations into electricity.

This research group have also converted embryonic stem cells into the early versions of the hair cells.

However, injecting them into the ear to restore hearing will be no easy task.

The hairs cells all need to be in the exact place and pointing in exactly the right direction.

Prof Dave Moore said using stem cells to repair the hairs was "almost an impossible task" and that the far-fetched concept of growing and transplanting a replacement ear seemed more likely.


[...]


Read the full article at: bbc.co.uk






Related Articles


Latest News from our Front Page

If Someone Secretly Controlled What You Say, Would Anyone Notice?
2014 10 01
The subject enters a room in which a 12-year-old boy is seated. A 20-minute conversation ensues. The subject quizzes the boy about current events and other topics to get a sense of his intelligence and personality. But the boy is not what he appears to be. Unbeknownst to the subject, the boy is wearing a radio receiver in his ear, and ...
Obama has had accurate intelligence about ISIS since BEFORE the 2012 election, says administration insider
2014 10 01
‘President Barack Obama’s intelligence briefings have provided him with specific information since before he won re-election in 2012 about the growing threat of the terror group now known alternatively as ISIS and ISIL, an administration insider told MailOnline on Monday. ‘Unless someone very senior has been shredding the president’s daily briefings and telling him that the dog ate them, highly accurate ...
Can holding a magnet against your head help defeat depression?
2014 10 01
Former GP Sue Mildred suffered from crippling depression and anxiety for 20 years. On two occasions it was so severe that she ended up in hospital, and for 15 years she was unable to work. Sue, 51, has tried antidepressants, talking therapies and, out of desperation, even ECT (electro-convulsive therapy), where an electric current is passed through the brain. This did ...
Extremists to have Facebook and Twitter vetted by anti-terror police
2014 09 30
Theresa May to announce new Extremist Disruption Orders to strengthen counter-terrorism if the Tories win the next general election Extremists will have to get posts on Facebook and Twitter approved in advance by the police under sweeping rules planned by the Conservatives. They will also be barred from speaking at public events if they represent a threat to “the functioning of democracy”, ...
Scottish Independence: Protesters demand revote
2014 09 30
Pro-independence campaigners gathered outside the Scottish Parliament for the second day in a row, this time to demand a revote of the September 18 referendum. While yesterday’s “Rally For A Revote” saw the return of Saltires and Yes banners to Holyrood, it did not match the turnout for the “Voice Of The People” rally held on Saturday, when up 3000 people ...
More News »