Study offers first proof that stem cells can reconnect inner ear to brain.
More than 275 million people have moderate-to-profound hearing loss, and many of those cases are caused by a breach in the connection between the inner ear and the brain.
Researchers have now shown how to repair a key component of that connection — the auditory nerve — by using human embryonic stem cells to restore hearing in gerbils1. "We have the proof of concept that we can use human embryonic stem cells to repair the damaged ear," says lead author Marcelo Rivolta, a stem-cell biologist at the University of Sheffield, UK, whose research appears in Nature today. "More work needs to be done, but now we know it's possible." (...) - by Virginia Gewin, Nature News, 12 September 2012