Stem cells restored audible range of deaf gerbils for the first time according to a study by researchers at the University of Sheffield, UK published in journal Nature, as BBC News reports.
UK scientists found stem cells from a human embryo could successfully replace gerbils’ damaged nerve cells of inner ears that are capable of accelerating sound signals to the brain. BBC News adds researchers were able to form delicate nerve inner ear cells converted from stem cells. The converted cells were injected into the interior ears of 18 deaf gerbils, producing a staggering result of at least 45 per cent hearing range improvement over a period of more than 10 weeks.
This could pave the way for a more advanced hearing disability treatment for humans in the future.
However, BBC News makes it clear such treatment for humans will still be a long process in development.
The potential benefits of stem cells could be countless. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) explains the basics and identifies the capability of stem cells to develop different types of cells that scientists consider essential for curing diseases, disabilities and other medical conditions.
Amidst ethical concerns with stem cells research, leading governments of the world are increasingly becoming aware of stem cells’ promise, leading to implementation of policies that could directly benefit the scientific community and the public at large.
On March 9, 2009, the Obama administration issued Executive Order (EO) 13505 that would give effect to some changes on how the NIH could maximize its function for the removal of barriers to responsible scientific research involving human stem cells. This executive order seeks to remove some limitations current laws have over human embryonic stem cell research and expands NIH support for the scientific community.
The UK government encourages public and private funding of stem cell research believing that it could help scientists unravel the best treatment for terminal illnesses including but not limited to chronic heart disease, diabetes and Parkinson’s.