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Cord Blood May Repair Hearing Loss

Hearing loss due to cochlear damage may be repaired by transplanting cord blood stem cells according to new research from Italy published in the journal Cell Transplantation. The work shows that a small number of cells can migrate to the damaged cochlea and repair sensory hair cells and neurons.
For their study, the research team used animal models in which permanent hearing loss had been induced by intense noise, chemical toxicity or both. Cochlear regeneration was only observed in animal groups that received cord blood stem cell transplants. Researchers used sensitive tracing methods to determine if the transplanted cells were capable of migrating to the cochlea and evaluated whether the cells could contribute to regenerating neurons and sensory tissue in the cochlea.
Results also showed that cochlear regeneration was less in the transplanted group deafened by noise rather than chemicals, implying that damage was more severe when induced by noise. Regenerative effects were greater in mice injected with a higher number of cord blood stem cells. They also found that regeneration of cochlear tissues improved as time passed.
“This study provides hope for a potential treatment for the repair of hearing impairments, particularly those arising as a consequence of cochlear damage,” said David Eve, PhD, at the University of South Florida Health, and associate editor of Cell Transplantation.

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