Scientists believe they are on the brink of a cure for congenital deafness after producing stem cells to correct a hereditary defect.
Researchers have found a way of growing human cochlear cells which can be used to replace faulty ones in people deaf from birth due to a genetic error.
They hope a treatment could be available to patients within five to 10 years.Professor Kazusaku Kamiya, a specialist in ear diseases who is leading the research,
which was published in the journal Stem Cell Reports, said: “I am very excited by what we have done. We hope this work will lead to a cure for a form of hereditary deafness. We have found a way to make cochlear stem cells. The next step is to find a way to safely inject them into the patient’s ear. It is possible a therapy could be available within five to 10 years.”
The work, which is being carried out in a laboratory at Juntendo University in Tokyo, Japan, aims to correct a mutation in a gene called Gap Junction Beta 2, which accounts for deafness or hearing loss for one in a thousand children.
In some parts of the world mutations of this gene are responsible for as many as half the instances of congenital hearing loss.
Professor Kamiya and his team have engineered and grown stem cells to replace human cochlear cells without this mutation.
Hereditary hearing loss is often caused by a genetic mutation in the hair cells of the ear, which are found in the inner ear, or cochlea, and are the sensory receptors of sound.
Patients with this condition are currently treated with an artificial cochlear implant, which helps transfer sound to the patient?s hearing nerves.
“I can hear the music” says Scott wolf , CEO of Grace Century. “It sounds like therapies are coming and this is music to our ears for projects like our Provia labs and Store-a-Tooth.”
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