There may be new hope for patients with total or partial hearing loss.
This news comes from research being conducted at the University of Sheffield in England. The research explains how by implanting certain types of stem cells, the reproduction of the cells that are involved in the hearing process may be able to regenerate.
While it is just in its experimental phase with animals, this finding has had positive initial results. Alternatives may even be developed to be used by patients all over the world between 5 to 10 years from now.
Research director and specialist in cellular biology, Dr. Marcelo Rivolta explains that the “…ear needs two stem cells to function. One is the cilia stem cell, which takes the sound or mechanical signal and transforms it into an electrical impulse, referred to as a mechanical transmitter. The other cell gathers this information and sends it to the brain. It is the cable that connects the ear to the brain.”
Someone with normal hearing has the same number of these types of cells from birth to death, as these are only produced in the prenatal stage. As we age, hearing loss is caused by damage to these cells, which cannot be naturally reproduced.
This group of researchers therefore first seeks to generate ciliary sells through the manipulation of stem cells.