New findings that gene therapy can regenerate auditory hair cells in
guinea pigs offers encouragement about the potential for developing new treatments
for hearing loss in humans. The work was reported in the June 1 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.
Loud noises, infections, aging, and certain medications can destroy
hair cells and damage hearing. Some 30 million US residents have clinically
significant hearing loss.
"Unlike . . . the skin or gut, the inner ear contains no stem cells,"
said Yehoush Raphael, PhD, of the University of Michigan School of Medicine,
Ann Arbor. "That's the main reason why hearing loss is permanent."
Vastag B. Long-term Care Shortage. JAMA. 2003;289(23):3080. doi:10.1001/jama.289.23.3080-a