Stem Cell Research - A guide to Hearing Loss

Many people see this as a ‘holy grail’ in terms of potential ‘cures’for a great many diseases. These include diabetes, motor neurone disease, paralysis, blindness and heart disease to name but a few. It could also treat hearing loss: and restore hearing in those people who have become deaf, either through accident or an illness.

But this is considered a highly controversial area of research which has its supporters and detractors. Supporters argue that it has the potential to cure a great many illnesses and diseases that affect the human race.

But its detractors are opposed to the idea of using human embryos for this purpose and see this as both unethical and immoral.

What are ‘stem cells?’

These are a type of cell, found in the embryo - hence the term ‘embryonic stem cells’– which can divide and transform itself into any type of cell within the body. This type of cell differs from any other in your body.

So if a stem cell is introduced into a heart muscle it will divide and form new heart cells. If it is introduced into the spinal cord then it will transform itself into a spinal cord cell. The cells within your body, such as those inside your stomach, divide and perform the role to which they were intended. In other words, if they are a stomach cell then they stay as a stomach cell.

But stem cells are different. These cells have the ability to divide and self-replicate which means that they could replace damaged cells in any part of the body.

So you can immediately see the potential with this type of research.

In theory they could treat almost any condition known to man which includes hearing loss.

Stem cells and hearing loss

Stem cells from inside the brain could be used to treat hearing loss. The reason for using cells from the brain is that these are very similar to hair cells found within the cochlea. There is one important difference and that is these brain cells are able to divide. They could do this and convert themselves into replacement hair cells that could pick up sounds and pass these through to the brain.

This is still at an experimental stage and trials need to be held with people to determine the feasibility of this therapy.

Treatments : A guide to Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss

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