Navigation Links
Human Stem Cells Restore Hearing to Deaf Gerbils in Study
Date:9/12/2012

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Using nerve cells grown from human embryonic stem cells, researchers report that they restored hearing in deaf gerbils.

About 80 percent to 90 percent of deafness is due to problems with the cells in the inner ear, explained senior study author Marcelo Rivolta, a reader in sensory stem cell biology at the University of Sheffield, in England. In the inner ear, two types of cells are key to hearing. One type are tiny projections called hair cells, which convert sound vibrations into electrical signals, which then travel along the auditory nerve to the brain.

When hair cells are damaged, cochlear implants can help overcome that by converting sound vibrations into electrical signals, bypassing the hair cells and directing stimulating the auditory nerve, experts explained. But when the cause of deafness is damage to the neurons that make up the auditory nerve, much less can be done about it, Rivolta said.

"We have concentrated on trying to fix the problem at the neuronal level. The cochlear implant is a device that functionally replaces the hair cell -- it takes sound and transforms it into an electrical signal," Rivolta said. "But for the cochlear implant to work, you have to have a good connection to the brain."

In the study, which is published online in the Sept. 12 issue of Nature, researchers coaxed human embryonic stem cells -- which have the potential to grow into any type of cell in the body -- into differentiating into otic (ear) progenitor cells. They did this by placing the stem cells into a test tube that contained certain molecules known to be present during fetal development when the ear forms.

Progenitors are immature cells that haven't fully differentiated into their specific role, but have certain characteristics that have started them down that path. Researchers then further coaxed the progenitors into becoming hair cells or auditory neurons.

"We have a system in vitro [in a test tube] that we can use to produce these important cell types, a little factory of hair cells and neurons whenever we need them," Rivolta said.

Researchers then transplanted the progenitor cells into about a dozen gerbils that had auditory nerve damage. Ten weeks after transplantation, brain wave measurements showed the gerbils could hear again.

"What we have seen is the progenitors engraft, survive and connect to the other cells that are there, and more important, they produce a functional recovery," Rivolta said.

Though exciting, much needs to be learned before the technique could be used in humans, Rivolta said.

"From here to humans, there is still quite a way to go. This is a very important step forward, but one of the first steps," Rivolta said. "What we need to do now is to understand if this recovery is permanent. We have only followed the gerbils for 10 weeks or so. And we want to also know if the treatment is safe, so we will monitor the behavior of the animals long-term."

Dr. John Goddard, a neurotologist at the House Clinic in Los Angeles, said the idea of using stem cells to regenerate stem cells in the inner ear is of great interest to researchers, and others are working on similar studies. This study is exciting in that researchers showed that not only did the nerve cells regrow, but that the gerbils recovered some hearing, he said.

"It is clearly of interest for a lot of people because the potential is dramatic," Goddard said. "The specific article sheds additional light that there is some potential there for regrowth, or regeneration, of sensory cells. But this is going to take many years" to perfect, he added.

Experts also note that while studies involving animals can be useful, they frequently fail to produce similar results in humans.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders has more on deafness.

SOURCES: Marcelo Rivolta, reader, sensory stem cell biology, University of Sheffield, England; John Goddard, M.D., neurotologist, House Clinic, Los Angeles; Sept. 12, 2012, Nature online


'/>"/>
Copyright©2012 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. New drug prevents spread of human prostate cancer cells
2. Scientists solving the mystery of human consciousness
3. First targeted nanomedicine to enter human clinical studies
4. Edith Mitchell, M.D., FACP, named 2012 recipient of ASCO Humanitarian Award
5. Novel compound demonstrates anti-leukemic effect in zebrafish, shows promise for human treatment
6. 2 genetic deletions in human genome linked to the development of aggressive prostate cancer
7. IBN discovers human neural stem cells with tumor targeting ability
8. RANK protein promotes the initiation, progression and metastasis of human breast cancer
9. CNIO researchers describe new functions of cohesin relevant for human disease
10. New Clues to the Evolution of the Human Brain
11. Humanist funerals
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Human Stem Cells Restore Hearing to Deaf Gerbils in Study 
(Date:1/17/2017)... ... January 17, 2017 , ... Mirror Mirror Beauty Boutique, ... highest honor of Diamond Level in Zeltiq’s Crystal Rewards Program. Practice founder, Paul Vitenas, ... this elite group of providers. , Produced by Zeltiq, CoolSculpting is approved by ...
(Date:1/17/2017)... ... January 17, 2017 , ... ... will lecture to primary eye care practitioners on the latest breakthroughs in the ... 13th Semi-Annual Continuing Education Symposium, according to eye surgeon, Jeffrey Martin, MD, FACS, ...
(Date:1/17/2017)... ... January 17, 2017 , ... Neil H. Greco Insurance Agency, a northern New ... the region, is launching a charity drive to raise awareness of heart disease and ... killer in America, and is responsible for 1 in every 4 deaths at the ...
(Date:1/17/2017)... ... January 17, 2017 , ... Livionex, Inc., a Silicon Valley ... double blind clinical study for its dental gel that shows significant reduction in plaque ... toothpaste containing triclosan. The study was conducted at the Beckman Laser Institute at UC ...
(Date:1/17/2017)... Tyler, TX (PRWEB) , ... January 17, 2017 ... ... serving Texas families from two offices in Tyler, has announced the latest beneficiary ... Red Ribbon Wish Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fulfilling the dreams of ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:1/17/2017)... 17, 2017   Tocagen Inc ., a clinical-stage, cancer-selective gene ... vice president, research and pharmaceutical development at Tocagen, will present at ... held Jan. 17-20 in Miami . ... ... manufacturing for replicating viruses - what to do when and why ...
(Date:1/17/2017)... Jan 17, 2017 Research and Markets has ... Type (Innovative, Generic), Manufacturer (Captive, Merchant), Synthesis (Synthetic, Biotech), Product (mAb, ... Forecast to 2021" report to their offering. ... The global active pharmaceutical ingredients ... USD 157.95 Billion in 2016, growing at a CAGR of 6.3% ...
(Date:1/17/2017)... , Jan. 17, 2017 Immune Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ... company, announced today that it will hold a Satellite Symposium ... Acute Leukemias (ISAL) XVI in Munich, Germany ... "Reinforcing the Efficacy of Immunotherapy for the maintenance of ... on Monday February 20 th , 2017 from 12:45 – ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: