In a recent study, scientists have used human stem cells to restore hearing in deaf gerbils. Although human trials will follow in a few years, this is very encouraging news for anyone suffering from deafness due to nerve damage.
The scientists chose gerbils because they hear at a range much closer to humans than mice, the usual suspects in most laboratory experiments. Scientists used a drug to destroy the gerbils’ auditory nerves and injected them with human stem cells that had been treated so they would become ear cells.
Eighteen gerbils were used and the journal Nature reported that “stem cells produced an average 46% recovery in hearing function.” If human subjects were used, this would be the equivalent of a completely deaf person suddenly being able to hold a conversation.
Of course, stem cells have been known…
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