- See a drone? ‘Shoot it down,’ says Colorado ordinance
- Spanish journalists kidnapped by al Qaeda group in Syria
- Nevada rescuers frenzied to find 4 kids, 2 adults lost in snow
- ‘TipsforJesus’ strikes in New York, with three massive tips
- John Podesta jumps aboard Obama ship to sell second-term agenda
- ‘Tis the Season: London florist creates $4.6 million Christmas wreath
- No tailgating allowed at Super Bowl XLVIII
- Pentagon to transport African troops to Central African Republic
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend’s shopping jumps to his death
- Ukraine leader to talk with protesters; Washington urges caution
Human stem cells restore hearing in gerbil study
NEW YORK (AP) - For the first time, scientists have improved hearing in deaf animals by using human embryonic stem cells, an encouraging step for someday treating people with certain hearing disorders.
The experiment involved an uncommon form of deafness, one that affects fewer than 1 percent to perhaps 15 percent of hearing-impaired people. And the treatment wouldn’t necessarily apply to all cases of that disorder. Scientists hope the approach can be expanded to help with more common forms of deafness. But in any case, it will be years before human patients might benefit.
To make the gerbils deaf in one ear, scientists killed nerve cells that transmit information from the ear to the brain. The experiment was aimed at replacing those cells.
Human embryonic stem cells can be manipulated to produce any type of cell. Using them is controversial because they are initially obtained by destroying embryos. Once recovered, stem cells can be grown and maintained in a lab and the experiment used cells from lab cultures.
The stem cells were used to make immature nerve cells. Those were then transplanted into the deaf ears of 18 gerbils.
Ten weeks later, the rodents’ hearing ability had improved by an average of 46 percent, with recovery ranging from modest to almost complete, the researchers reported.
And how did they know the gerbils could hear in their deafened ears? They measured hearing ability by recording the response of the brain stem to sound.
The gerbils were kept on medication to avoid rejecting the human cells, much like people who get transplants of human organs, Rivolta said. But that might not be necessary if the procedure proceeds to people, he said. Scientists may be able to work with stem cells that closely match a patient, or even use a different technology to make the transplanted cells from a patient’s own tissue, he said.
Rivolta’s team also reported making immature versions of a second kind of inner-ear cell. Transplants of those cells might be able to treat far more cases of hearing loss. But the team has not yet tested these in animals, Rivolta said.
Yehoash Raphael of the University of Michigan, who didn’t participate in the work, said it’s possible the stem cell transplants worked by stimulating the gerbils’ own few remaining nerve cells, rather than creating new ones. But either way, “this is a big step forward in use of stem cells for treating deafness,” he said.
Malcolm Ritter can be followed at http://twitter.com/malcolmritter
By Tom Fitton
New photos confirm the attack's coordination and its cover-up
- FITTON: A closer look at the Benghazi lie
- Obama eulogizes Mandela, calls him 'the last great liberator'
- Troops forced to rely on welfare, holiday charity
- Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu backs out of Nelson Mandela funeral
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- Obama lied about Syrian chemical attack, 'cherry-picked' intelligence: report
- CURL: Obama tells a whopper on IRS scandal
- NSA monitored 'World of Warcraft' players
- MSNBC host: Obamacare a 'wealthy white men' racist word
- American bourbon now better than Scottish whiskey: U.K.-born expert
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
This column will cover the experiential spectrum of music as well as politics and all the things caught in between.
Listening to the heartbeat of Louisiana, including events, food, family and culture.
The Constitution: Every issue, every time. No exceptions, no excuses. And how to get from here to there.
Crystal Wright is a black conservative woman living in Washington, D.C.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow