Patients suffering from hearing problems beginning during infancy and childhood could benefit from a transplant of stem cells from their nose, report Sharon Oleskevich and co-workers, University of New South Wales, Australia.
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by the loss of or neurons in the cochlea. The regenerative ability of the human cochlea is severely limited, but stems cells could help repair tissue by replacing damaged cells and enhancing the survival of existing cells.
Oleskevich’s team has shown that mucosa-derived stem cells can help preserve hearing: Nasal stem cells were injected into the cochlea of mice displaying symptoms of hearing loss. The hearing threshold levels of the treated mice were found to be significantly lower than those of control mice for both click and pure tone stimuli. The cells did not integrate into the cochlea, so it is likely that the effects were due to the release of factors to preserve function of the endogenous stem cells.
- Functional effects of adult human olfactory stem cells on early-onset sensorineural hearing loss
S. R. Pandit, J. M. Sullivan, V. Egger, A. A. Borecki, S. Oleskevich,
Stem Cells 2011.