Stem Cell Research Offers Hope for the Deaf

April 2, 2009

(ChattahBox)—British researchers from the University of Sheffield just published the results in the Stem Cell Journal, of an exciting new study using stem cells to treat deafness. Although, researchers admit their methods are years away from human trials, the research shows great promise to someday restore hearing loss in people who suffer from permanent deafness and have little hope of ever hearing again.

Once hearing is lost, it is usually permanent and can’t be restored. However, with the use of fetal stem cells, blueprint “master” cells of the human body, the researchers were able to manipulate the stem cells to grow sensory hair cells or auditory neurons. Lead researcher Marcelo Rivolt, hopes one day to be able to implant the new auditory cells into human ears to restore lost hearing. So far, the researchers obtained promising results inserting the auditory cells into animals.

The British researchers discovered that the new auditory cells produced from the fetal cells, performed identically to existing cells in developing ears. Researchers are also studying the use of embryonic and adult stem cells for their studies on restoring hearing loss. Stem cell research offers exciting possibilities for cures to such diseases as Parkinson’s, diabetes, cancer and many forms of muscular dystrophy.

British researchers also recently obtained great success in using stem cells to treat macular degeneration of the eyes, which is a common condition among the elderly. They will be conducting clinical trials on humans within the next two years.



10 Responses to “Stem Cell Research Offers Hope for the Deaf”

  1. Dwayne on April 2nd, 2009 8:45 am

    You can only get “fetal” cells from killing unborn babies.

  2. Mister Spak on April 2nd, 2009 9:10 am

    How long will it be before Rush Limbaugh uses these embryonic stem cells to restore his hearing?

  3. Michael Burton on April 2nd, 2009 9:15 am

    Wow, they took fetal cells and turned them into adult stem cells… when they could have just used adult stem cells in the first place. What a breakthrough!*


  4. The Known on April 2nd, 2009 9:40 am

    @Dwayne – If it’s unborn, it’s not a baby. If it’s unhatched, it’s not a chicken. Try not to let your “faith” cloud everybody else’s science.

    @Mister Spak – If only Rush _wanted_ to restore his hearing. He’d much rather talk than listen. Well, talk and pop a handful of narcotics while executing a drug abuse double standard.

  5. TheDoctor11 on April 2nd, 2009 9:47 am

    Learn somethings before writing Dwayne check out Wikipedia it will do wonders for you. Same goes for Michael.

  6. Ian on April 2nd, 2009 10:53 am

    I’m all for stem cell research, but for something like this they may want to research deaf culture first because most would probably not want to get the procedure done. Remember the whole cochlear implant business??

  7. Christopher on April 2nd, 2009 2:40 pm

    As a late deafened adult, I’m very happy with the friends that I’ve made in the deaf community, but I would very much love to have my hearing back. It’s very difficult to adjust your career and life to a world that doesn’t treat you the way they did before. And there are plenty of adults and children that are using cochlear implants. More and more every year. Are there some the reject the robotics? Of course. And there are some that have them as children and then get rid of them as adults — the point is: choice. They have options to do that. This stem cell news is great news for many of us.

  8. Mary on May 12th, 2009 3:40 pm

    They are now figuring out ways to use stem cells without using embryonic cells. I am hearing impaired since my early 40s, so trying to communicate with society is difficult because if you don’t answer or answer incorrectly, they think you are being rude – even if you tell them you have hearing problems. I would love to have my hearing restored – but this whole experience has given me an appreciation for the deaf community.

  9. Anees on May 15th, 2009 8:10 am

    Those not in favor of using stem cells to restore hearing are most likely NOT DEAF. If a fetus is disgarded by the mother, its her choice as the law allows. Sad, yes. but why should the medical researchers make the same ‘mistake’ and disgard potentially life-saving, life-altering advancements.
    PS to Ian..cochlear implants do not work for everyone.

  10. miguel on August 26th, 2009 10:20 am

    I think you are doing human trials, at least with children (see the web cordbloodregistry –>> ).
    In this blog you can also stay informed on human trials.

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