Stem cell therapy promising in treatment of deafness

March 24th, 2009 - 5:14 pm ICT by IANS  

London, March 24 (IANS) Researchers have successfully isolated stem cells from that portion of the inner hear that actually does the hearing. The transplantation of these cells from foetuses may help some of the 250 million people worldwide who suffer from hearing impairment.
The researchers were able to create conditions that allowed the progressive differentiation of these cells into neurons and hair cells with the same functional characteristics as cells seen in the body.

“The results are the first in-vitro renewable stem cell system derived from the human auditory organ and have the potential for a variety of applications and help to develop cell-based therapies for deafness,” said Marcelo N. Rivolta, University of Sheffield, who led the study.

“Access to human cells that can differentiate should allow the exploration of features unique to humans that may not be applicable to animal models,” said Donald G. Phinney, co-editor of the journal that published these findings, according to a Sheffield release.

The study will appear in the April issue of STEM CELLS.

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