Stem Cell Therapy May Treat Deafness
Deafness typically involves the loss of sensory receptors, called hair cells, for their "tufts" of hair-like protrusions, and their associated neurons.
Led by Dr. Marcelo N. Rivolta of the University of Sheffield, researchers have successfully isolated human auditory stem cells from foetal cochleae (the auditory portion of the inner ear) and found that they could be differentiated into sensory hair cells and neurons.
The researchers carefully dissected and cultured cochlear cells from 9-11 week-old human fetuses. They then expanded the cells and maintained in vitro for up to one year, with continued division for the first 7 to 8 months and up to 30 population doublings, which is similar to other non-embryonic stem cell populations, such as bone marrow.