PALO ALTO, Calif., May 14 (UPI) — Specialized ear cells developed from mice show potential to improve hearing loss in humans, scientists in California said.
Scientists at Stanford used mouse stem cells to develop sensory hair cells like those found in the inner part of the ear. The hairs bend in response to vibrations, changing sound waves into electrical signals that are sent to the brain.
People have about 15,000 such hair cells in each ear. The cells don’t regenerate when damaged, which leads to hearing loss and a condition known as tinnitus.
The hair cells developed from mouse stem cells “really looked like they were more or less taken out of an ear, Stefan Heller, a Stanford professor of otolaryngology, wrote in a recent issue of the journal Cell.
Future tests are to determine whether it’s possible to grow thousands of hair cells from human stem cells for use in human ears, Heller said.
“I am not saying that (transplants) will be unfeasible, but (they are) certainly not around the corner,” Heller said in a Times of London story published Friday.
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