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Stem Cells Hold Hope for Cure of Deafness

Stem cell therapy may one day enable deaf people to hear again.

In a new test by UK scientists found that deaf gerbils recover their hearing after human stem cells were injected into their ears.

“It’s a proof of concept, and it’s important because for the first time we’ve shown stem cells can be used to repair the ear,” New Scientist quoted Marcelo Rivolta of the University of Sheffield, UK, and head of the team that treated the gerbils, as saying.

Spiral ganglion neurons in the ear convert mechanical sound vibrations into electrical signals that the brain interprets as sound.

When these neurons get damaged or die they can’t be replaced. This results in a form of deafness called auditory neuropathy, which affects about a tenth of deaf people, according to Rivolta.

Stem cell therapy may one day enable deaf people to hear again.

In a new test by UK scientists found that deaf gerbils recover their hearing after human stem cells were injected into their ears.

“It’s a proof of concept, and it’s important because for the first time we’ve shown stem cells can be used to repair the ear,” New Scientist quoted Marcelo Rivolta of the University of Sheffield, UK, and head of the team that treated the gerbils, as saying.

Spiral ganglion neurons in the ear convert mechanical sound vibrations into electrical signals that the brain interprets as sound.

When these neurons get damaged or die they can’t be replaced. This results in a form of deafness called auditory neuropathy, which affects about a tenth of deaf people, according to Rivolta.

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