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Hearing loss

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Gerbil studies suggest stem cell-based therapy could help treat hearing loss caused by auditory neuropathy. Reprogrammed human embryonic stem cells showed morphological features of auditory neural progenitor cells. In a gerbil model of chemical-induced auditory neuropathy, progenitor cells transplanted to the cochlea up to two weeks after neuronal injury engrafted to form synaptic connections to the central auditory neural pathway. In this model, ears that received the transplant showed greater sensitivity to sound volume and frequencies than the untreated ear of the same animal. Next steps could include testing the efficacy of cell transplants in the models three or more weeks after neuronal injury.

SciBX 5(38); doi:10.1038/scibx.2012.1011
Published online Sept. 27, 2012

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Chen, W. et al. Nature; published online
Sept. 12, 2012;
Contact: Marcelo N. Rivolta, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, U.K.