Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Stem Cell Breakthrough?

Deaf gerbils can hear again thanks to implanted human stem cells. This could be a step toward overcoming some causes of hearing loss in people, according to researchers led by Dr. Marcelo Rivolta of the UK's University of Sheffield. He says this could lead to using embryonic stem cells to repair the ear. If animal testing continue to show promise, human trials could begin within a few years. While a cochlear implant can help with some types of hearing loss, such as genetic disorders, prolonged exposure to high-decibel noise and infections like bacterial meningitis, the implant is practically useless if without the auditory nerve. Details are in the journal Nature. Read more here.