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Medical Repairing/Replacing a Human Cochlea

  1. Jul 8, 2010 #1
    When I was 2 years old I contracted pneumococcal menengitis and it destroyed many of the hair cells in my cochlea - resulting in profound deafness. I wear a cochlear implant at the moment but I was wondering:

    When will it be possible grow human hairs cells with stem cells, or when will it be possible for a new human cochlear to be made/grown with the technology we have today or that to come in the near future? Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 8, 2010 #2


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    Mouse experiments have already indicated that damaged hair cells can be replaced by stem cells, but I think the application of the technology lies a long way in the future. Also, it would probably only work when the tissue is still damaged, not when it has had time to heal by itself.

    Here is a paper, where they were able to grow hair-like cells from stem cells:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20478259" [Broken]
    and an earlier paper:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19625987" [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  4. Jul 13, 2010 #3
    I suspect, based on nothing more than my opinion for the argument of this thread, that advances in cochlear implants will outstrip stem-cell repairs in the near future. For the time being, the issue of programming stem cells to "do as they are told" is a real issue, and the testing process is relatively long and can be dangerous. Improperly treated stem cells are essentially neoplasms. Just as advances for those with blindness have been found in what might be called cybernetics, I think the same will be true for hearing. I would hasten to add that it doesn't mean that a "repaired" cochlea would be desirable either; a synthetic one or other implant may well provide better hearing eventually. Hearing loss of one degree or another is a big industry, which means that a lot of money goes into R&D; I would not be discouraged because one seeming avenue is limited.
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