Hearing with your nose: How nasal stem cells could tackle childhood hearing problems

February 10, 2011, Wiley

Stem Cell scientists in Australia have found that patients suffering from hearing problems which began during infancy and childhood could benefit from a transplant of stem cells from their nose. The research, published today in Stem Cells, reveals that mucosa-derived stem cells can help preserve hearing function during the early-onset of sensorineural hearing loss.

Sensorineural is caused by the loss of sensory cells or in the cochlea, the of the responsible for . The condition can have genetic causes, often arising during infancy and childhood, hindering and leading to speech and language problems.

"One of the challenges in tackling this condition is that the regenerative ability of the human cochlea is severely limited", said lead author Dr. Sharon Oleskevich from the Hearing Research Group at The University of New South Wales. "It has been proposed that the transplantation of cells from other parts of the body could treat, prevent or even reverse hearing loss. The transplanted cells have the potential to repair tissue by replacing damaged cells and enhancing the survival of existing cells, preventing the condition from developing further."

To investigate the effects of this treatment, nasal stem cells were injected into the cochlea of mice displaying symptoms of hearing loss. Mice were chosen for this treatment as they display a similar decline in hearing function following infancy.

"The authors have used an interesting type of adult stem cell, related to mesenchymal stem cells, to reduce the extent of hearing loss. Since the cells did not integrate into the cochlea, it is likely that the effects from the adult stem cells were due to the release of factors to preserve function of the endogenous stem cells. Mesenchymal stem cells are known to provide factors to keep many types of cells healthy and functioning," said Jan Nolta, Associate Editor of .

Patient hearing levels were examined using the auditory brainstem response assay, which determines the lowest sound level to which the brain responds, known as the hearing threshold.

The mice which received the transplanted cells were compared to mice who had not received the treatment a month later, revealing that the hearing threshold level in stem cell-transplanted mice was significantly lower.

"The results demonstrate a significant effect of nasal stem cell transplantations for sensorineural hearing loss," concluded Oleskevich. "These cells can be obtained easily from the nasal cavity making this transplantation a potential treatment for other human conditions including Parkinson's disease and cardiac infarction."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Spare parts from small parts: Novel scaffolds to grow muscle

February 20, 2018
Australian biomedical engineers have successfully produced a 3D material that mimics nature to transform cells into muscle.

Clues to obesity's roots found in brain's quality control process

February 20, 2018
Deep in the middle of our heads lies a tiny nub of nerve cells that play a key role in how hungry we feel, how much we eat, and how much weight we gain.

Study looks at how newly discovered gene helps grow blood vessels

February 19, 2018
A new study published today found that a newly discovered gene helps grow blood vessels when it senses inadequate blood flow to tissues.

Scientists produce human intestinal lining that re-creates living tissue inside organ-chip

February 16, 2018
Investigators have demonstrated how cells of a human intestinal lining created outside an individual's body mirror living tissue when placed inside microengineered Intestine-Chips, opening the door to personalized testing ...

Data wave hits health care

February 16, 2018
Technology used by Facebook, Google and Amazon to turn spoken language into text, recognize faces and target advertising could help doctors fight one of the deadliest infections in American hospitals.

Researcher explains how statistics, neuroscience improve anesthesiology

February 16, 2018
It's intuitive that anesthesia operates in the brain, but the standard protocol among anesthesiologists when monitoring and dosing patients during surgery is to rely on indirect signs of arousal like movement, and changes ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.