Wednesday, 28 December 2011
Harnessing stem cells to prevent hearing loss
Scientists have set out to harness stem cells to overcome hearing loss associated with age.
Keele University researchers in North Staffordshire are attempting the growth of new cells in the ear that become lost and damaged with age.
Researchers found that in some cases hearing begins to decline when fibrocytes, cells in the inner ear which usually manage levels of potassium and sodium, start to degenerate.
Once these cells have died and no longer function correctly, other parts of the inner ear can become permanently damaged, causing greater hearing loss and possible deafness.
Dave Furness, from Keele University`s School of Life Sciences, has been working for three years to look into the causes of age-related hearing loss.
Now, Furness and his PhD student Jacqueline Tickle have begun the next phase of the research, which will explore whether replacement fibrocytes and fibrocyte stem cells can be successfully grown and implanted into the ear.
If successful, the research could pave the way towards the prevention of age-related hearing loss.