Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Stem Cells, Cellular Therapy & Biobanking
>
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Human Stem Cells Cure Common Form of Deafness

Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Bookmark and Share
Experts from University developed a method to turn human embryonic stem cells into ear cells.

A cure for deafness is a step closer after University of Sheffield scientists used human embryonic stem cells to treat a common form of hearing loss.

In research funded by the Medical Research Council and leading UK research charity, Action on Hearing Loss, experts from the University’s Department of Biomedical Sciences developed a method to turn human embryonic stem cells into ear cells.

They then transplanted them into deaf gerbils, obtaining a functional recovery that, on average, was of around 46 per cent. The improvement was evident about four weeks after administering the cells.

As well as proving that stem cells can be used to repair damaged hearing, it is hoped the breakthrough - published in the journal Nature - will lead to new treatments and therapies in the future.

The model of hearing loss successfully treated by the scientists is similar to a human condition known as auditory neuropathy, a form of deafness in which the damage occurs at the level of the cochlear nerve. It is thought to represent up to 15 per cent of the population across the world with profound hearing loss.

Dr Marcelo Rivolta, who led the project, said: “We developed a method to drive human embryonic stem cells to produce both hair cells and neurons, or nerve cells, but we only transplanted the neurons. We then used a technique called auditory brainstem evoked responses (ABR), which measures if the brain can perceive an electrical signal after sound stimulation. The responses of the treated animals were substantially better than those untreated, although the range of improvement was broad. Some subjects did very well, while in others recovery was poor.”

Auditory neuropathy is a type of deafness where the problem lies, not primarily with the hair cells, but in the connection of the hair cells with the brain.

Patients can be born with it and there are cases due to a genetic defect where a few responsible genes have already been identified.

However, there is increasing evidence that environmental factors, such as jaundice at birth and noise exposure later in life, play an important role, at least as risk factors.

Dr Rivolta added: “We believe this is an important step forward. We have now a method to produce human cochlear sensory cells that we could use to develop new drugs and treatments, and to study the function of genes. And more importantly, we have the proof-of-concept that human stem cells could be used to repair the damaged ear.

“More research is needed. For instance, we want to understand the long term implications of this treatment and its safety. Moreover, while in auditory neuropathy patients that retain their hair cells the sole application of stem cells could be beneficial; those with more comprehensive damage may need a cochlear implant to compensate for the hair cell deficit. In these patients it is possible that stem cells should be administered in combination with a cochlear implant. It is therefore important to explore this interaction.”

Dr Ralph Holme, Head of Biomedical Research for Action on Hearing Loss, said: “The research we have funded at the University of Sheffield is tremendously encouraging and gives us real hope that it will be possible to fix the actual cause of some types of hearing loss in the future. For the millions of people for whom hearing loss is eroding their quality of life, this can’t come soon enough.”

Dr Paul Colville-Nash, Programme Manager for stem cell, developmental biology and regenerative medicine at the Medical Research Council, which co-funded the research, added: “This is promising research that demonstrates further proof-of-concept that stem cells have the potential to treat a range of human diseases that currently have no effective cures. While any new treatment is likely to take years to reach the clinic, this study clearly demonstrates that investment in UK stem cell research and regenerative medicine is beginning to bear fruit, and that is very exciting.”


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,400+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

3D-Printed Guides Can Help Restore Function In Damaged Nerves
Scientists at the University of Sheffield have succeeded in using a 3D printed guide to help nerves damaged in traumatic incidents repair themselves.
Monday, March 02, 2015
Human Embryonic Stem Cells Could Help to Treat Deafness
A cure for deafness is a step closer after University of Sheffield scientists used human embryonic stem cells to treat a common form of hearing loss.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Scientific News
Access Denied: Leukemia Thwarted by Cutting Off Link to Environmental Support
A new study reveals a protein’s critical – and previously unknown -- role in the development and progression of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a fast-growing and extremely difficult-to-treat blood cancer.
New Weapon in the Fight Against Blood Cancer
This strategy, which uses patients’ own immune cells, genetically engineered to target tumors, has shown significant success against multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells that is largely incurable.
Scientists Create CRISPR/Cas9 Knock-In Mutations in Human T Cells
In a project spearheaded by investigators at UC San Francisco, scientists have devised a new strategy to precisely modify human T cells using the genome-editing system known as CRISPR/Cas9.
Zebrafish Reveal Drugs that may Improve Bone Marrow Transplant
Compounds boost stem cell engraftment; could allow more matches for patients with cancer and blood diseases.
New Material Forges the Way for 'Stem Cell Factories'
Researchers have discovered the first fully synthetic substrate with potential to grow billions of stem cells. The researchcould forge the way for the creation of 'stem cell factories' - the mass production of human embryonic (pluripotent) stem cells.
Liver Regrown from Stem Cells
Scientists have repaired a damaged liver in a mouse by transplanting stem cells grown in the laboratory.
Immunotherapy Shows Promise for Myeloma
A strategy, which uses patients’ own immune cells, genetically engineered to target tumors, has shown significant success against multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells that is largely incurable.
'Google Maps' for the Body
Scientists have revealed research that uses previously top-secret technology to zoom through the human body down to the level of a single cell that could be a game-changer for medicine.
Adaptimmune's Novel Cancer Therapeutics Show Positive Clinical Trial Results
The company has announced that positive data from its Phase I/II study of its affinity enhanced T-cell receptor (TCR) therapeutic targeting the NY-ESO-1 cancer antigen in patients with multiple myeloma has been published.
Stem Cells Rescue Patients from Mitochondrial Disease
A study led by OHSU researchers has revealed a critical first step in developing a new gene and stem cell regenerative technique for treating patients with mitochondrial disease.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,400+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!