25 May 2011

Nasal stem cells may cure early-onset hearing loss

Hearing has been restored in mice using nasal stem cells.

Australian scientists have been able to restore hearing in mice using nasal stem cells. They found that patients suffering from hearing problems, which began during infancy and childhood, could benefit from a transplant of stem cells from the nose.

The research has revealed that nasal mucosa-derived stem cells can help preserve hearing function during the early-onset of sensorineural hearing loss.

Nasal stem cells were injected into the cochlea of mice with symptoms of hearing loss and their hearing levels were then examined. They found that those mice with the stem cells scored significantly better in hearing tests compared to mice without the cells.

Chemical signalling
"The results demonstrate a significant effect of nasal stem cell transplantations for sensorineural hearing loss," concluded lead author Dr Sharon Oleskevich from the Hearing Research Group at The University of New South Wales.

“Analysis revealed, that transplanted stem cells survived within the cochlea but did not integrate into host tissues, suggesting that chemical signalling may mediate the observed preservation of hearing levels," she said.
Speech and language development

Researchers say, that it is important to find new treatments for early-onset hearing loss. Hearing impairments during infancy and childhood can lead to problems with speech and language and hinder cognitive development.

Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by the loss of sensory cells or neurons in the cochlea, the sensory organ of the inner ear responsible for hearing. The condition can have genetic causes, often arising during infancy and childhood, hindering cognitive development and leading to speech and language problems.

The results have been published in the journal Stem Cells.

Sources: www.abc.net.au and www.dnaindia.com

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