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Research, Stem Cells

Stanford researcher comments on the use of human embryonic stem cells to restore hearing

Findings published today in Nature describe how a team of researchers used human embryonic stem cells to enable deaf rodents to hear again. Researchers hope that the stem-cell treatment could one day be combined with cochlear implants to restore hearing for more patients.

A piece in Technology Review describes the work and includes comments from Stefan Heller, MD, PhD. Heller was not involved in the study and had this to say about whether the therapy might eventually be used in the clinical setting:

While the study shows the potential of stem cells to replace auditory nerve fibers, says Stefan Heller, who studies hair-cell function and regeneration at the Stanford School of Medicine, the results will be difficult to translate to patients. “It is virtually impossible to diagnose a reduction of auditory nerve fibers in hearing-loss patients.” The risk of tumor formation, an issue carried by all potential embryonic stem-cell therapies, are also carried by this treatment, he says.

Previously: Stanford chair of otolaryngology discusses future regenerative therapies for hearing lossStefan Heller discusses stem cell research on Science Friday and Growing new inner-ear cells: a step toward a cure for deafness

2 Responses to “ Stanford researcher comments on the use of human embryonic stem cells to restore hearing ”

  1. Mary Evslin Says:

    I am so glad that Dr. Heller has commented on this study. All of us who have family members with hearing loss are looking for hope. Stanford researchers and Dr. Heller are the leaders in this field and the clarification is so helpful. Guess regeneration of the hairs and other necessary parts of the inner ear require more careful research. We look forward to a safe and total solution. Keep us informed please.

  2. Pat Says:

    The results by Rivolta et al were groundbreaking and i believe they also found a way to generate human hair cells in vitro which is a big step forward as previously Stanford had devleoped mice cells in vitro. The development of human cells in vitro might allow Albery Edge et al to test expeditiously drugs on human cells following his groundbreaking recent work. Much needs to be done but with this great work is happening around the world, and all the people involved are giving great hope. Heres looking to further breakthroughs in 2013!


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