- Embryonic stem cell causes cysts, tumors and teratomas (monster tumors)
- The cysts, tumors and teratomas may develop into cancer
- The mice had to be put on immunosuppressive drugs to control the transplant rejection issues
- The mice absorb the genetic anomalies of the donor cells
- The mice may still experience rejection or GVHD
- The type of deafness treated in this study accounts for only 1% of deaf people (‘because the “exquisite architecture” of the inner ear can be damaged in many different ways, ”there won’t be one cure for hearing loss, there will be a variety of interventions tailored to unique conditions”’)
A cure for deafness caused by auditory neuropathy is one step closer, after a breakthrough in stem cell therapy by UK researchers. Published online before print in the 12 September online issue of the prestigious scientific journal Nature, researchers from the University of Sheffield describe how they successfully restored hearing to previously deaf gerbils using human embryonic stem cells.
Stem-cell biologist Marcelo Rivolta led the project, which brings hope to some of the 275 million people worldwide with moderate-to-profound hearing loss, many of whom have it as a result of a defect in the auditory nerve, also called the cochlear nerve or acoustic nerve, which causes a faulty link between the inner ear and the brain. This new discovery opens the doors to a possible new way of treating deafness in a group of people who are unable to be helped by existing technology and treatments.
“We have the proof of concept that we can use human embryonic stem cells to repair the damaged ear,” says lead author Marcelo Rivolta “More work needs to be done, but now we know it’s possible.”
The first stem cell-based treatments for hearing loss are likely to be at least 15 years away though. According to Stefan Heller, a stem-cell researcher at Stanford University in California who is also working on differentiating cells involved in hearing…