Audiology in Brief Researchers at Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine have transformed stem cells taken from adult bone marrow into cells with many of the characteristics of neurons found in the ear. The results suggest that these adult stem cells could be used to treat deaf patients in the future. The ... News in Brief
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News in Brief  |   May 01, 2005
Audiology in Brief
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Hearing Disorders / News in Brief
News in Brief   |   May 01, 2005
Audiology in Brief
The ASHA Leader, May 2005, Vol. 10, 5. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB.10062005.5
The ASHA Leader, May 2005, Vol. 10, 5. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB.10062005.5
Stem Cell Research Demonstrates Possibility of Aiding Hearing
Researchers at Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine have transformed stem cells taken from adult bone marrow into cells with many of the characteristics of neurons found in the ear. The results suggest that these adult stem cells could be used to treat deaf patients in the future.
The IU group is led by Eri Hashino, an associate professor and Ruth C. Holton Scholar in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. The cells used in the research are called marrow stromal cells-a type of stem cell from which fat, bone, and cartilage normally develop.
“We were interested in marrow stromal cells because of their potential for use in autologous cell-based therapy,” Hashino said. Other researchers had previously shown that the marrow stromal cells could be induced to transform into neuronal cells, but it wasn’t clear whether, or how, the cells could be further transformed into useful specialized neurons.
In a two-step process, Hashino and her colleagues first cultivated mouse marrow stromal cells with chemicals known to encourage stem cells to change into primitive neurons. The bone marrow cells took the shape and other characteristics of neurons. Next, they exposed the cells to two molecules that are secreted from nearby tissues of the ear during embryonic development. The two molecules-known as sonic hedgehog and retinoic acid-together caused the marrow stromal cells to further develop into cells with many of the characteristics of auditory neurons, such as the presence of specific genes and proteins.
Hashino said she and her colleagues are beginning new experiments to test the feasibility of marrow stromal cell transplantation to stimulate the growth of the nerve cells that are often missing from the inner ears of patients with profound hearing loss.
The research was published March 18 in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and appeared in the print edition of the journal March 29.
Alert System for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Launched in Maine
A partnership between the Maine Emergency Management Agency, the Division of Deafness, and the Maine Center on Deafness has created an emergency alert system for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.
The need for such a service was first identified in 1998 during a severe ice storm. Power outages trapped many Mainers in their homes. People with typical hearing were able to obtain information about the storm through their battery-powered radios. People with hearing loss, however, were isolated with no way to learn about the seriousness of the storm.
For more information about the emegency alert system, visit the Maine Center on Deafness Web site.
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May 2005
Volume 10, Issue 6