Deafness cure breakthrough as scientists create tiny ear hairs from stem cells

May 16, 2010 at 11:30 am | Posted in Cochlear Implants, Possible cure for nerve deafness | 4 Comments
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I found this article in the Daily Mail after I was recovering from my operation.  Rather apt I think on the day I turn Bionic this article is released holding even more hope for the deaf and hard of hearing in the not so distant future!!

‘A cure for deafness could be on the horizon after scientists created specialised ear cells in the lab.

Grown in their thousands, the delicate hairs could one day be transplanted into the inner ear, restoring hearing to millions.

The breakthrough comes after ten years of painstaking research.

It may also allow some balance disorders to be eased and aid the search for drugs to prevent people from becoming hard of hearing.

Age-related hearing loss affects half of Britons aged 60 and over and there is currently no way of holding it at bay.

Hearing aids amplify sounds but nothing can give sufferers back the hearing they once had.

In the latest research at Stanford University, California, scientists perfected turning stem cells – blank cells which can turn into other cell types – into the delicate hairs found in the inner ear. ones.

The linch-pin of hearing and balance, thousands of these hairs help convert sound vibrations into nerve impulses which are decoded by the brain.

Ageing, noise and general wear and tear make them wither away and, until now, there was no way of replacing them.

The hairs made in the lab from mice looked and acted like the real thing, the journal Cell reports.

Researcher Stefan Heller said: ‘We knew it was really working when we saw them in the electron microscope.

‘They looked more or less like they were taken out of the ear.’

If the same technique can be applied to human cells, within ten years it may be possible to transplant-the delicate hairs to restore hearing.

Using slivers of the patient’s skin as a source of the stem cells means that any hairs generated would be a perfect match for their body.

It also raises the tantalising possibility of creating drugs to coax the ear into growing more hair cells of its own accord.

Professor Heller said: ‘We could now test thousands of drugs in a dish. Within a decade or so, we could reap the benefits.’

Lead researcher Dr Kazuo Oshima said: ‘We’ve made hair-like cells in a Petri dish. This is an important step towards the development of future therapies.’

Dr Ralph Holme, of the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, said the news was ‘really exciting’.

RNID-funded researchers at Sheffield University have turned human stem cells into hair cells but these were not as much like the real thing as the U.S. ones.’

BBC See Hear programme

February 11, 2010 at 8:58 pm | Posted in BBC See Hear | 7 Comments
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Well tomorrow is my final appointment with the Hospital before I (hopefully) get the go ahead for an operation to turn me in to Lee Majors!!  I think that’s how to spell his name!!  Any way………the Bionic Man to those who don’t know 🙂

Apparently the BBC have been following my Blog on the sly and a few weeks ago contacted me to see if I would be happy for them to feature my hearing loss story on their See Hear programme.  I was a bit shocked initially.  I mean,  my blog isn’t really that good compared to so many others I have come across and I don’t have much time to update it as often as I want to either.  Anyway, I agreed thinking it would just be a small bit about my blog and I wouldn’t have that much input!!  Ha ha, silly me!!

So far we have filmed at my gym, at my house and tomorrow they are coming to the hospital to film me after my appointment.  I am not looking forward to seeing me on the TV but as I have roped my girls in to it too it should be quite amusing!!

On a more serious not, if there had been a programme about 6 months ago that I could have seen that showed someone going through a similar time as me I would have found it very helpful.  So hopefully someone will find it useful and it may help them realise things do get easier and there is light at the end of the tunnel!!

On a less serious note……..I wonder how much I should charge the BBC??

Oh……..if you want a giggle at me and the family then check out the TV programme on BBC 2 10th March.  Dont know what time it will be on but you can check it all out on their own blog nearer the show date here http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/seehear/

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