Daily Mail article published today online.

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Is a cure for deafness on the horizon?

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It appears that Sheffield University scientists have successfully restored the hearing of profoundly deaf gerbils.  Although how they located a number of profoundly deaf gerbils is beyond me!  The research involved a type of deafness called auditory neuropathy.  This is caused by age, genes, noise or illness damaging the nerve cells in the inner ear that transmit electrical signals to the brain where they are decoded as sounds.  The researchers created a combination of nutrients needed to turn the stem cells into immature versions of the cells damaged in auditory neuropathy.  They then injected the cells into the inner ears of gerbils left profoundly deaf by a chemical treatment.  Aha there is my answer to locating such a breed of gerbil!  The gerbils hearing started to return after 4 weeks with many showing substantial recovery within 10 weeks.

I understand that gerbils were used, rather than mice, as gerbils hear the same range of sounds as humans.

It is hoped the treatment can be tested on humans in the coming years, however, first it needs to be established how long the treatment lasts and ensure that it is safe as well as effective.

Karen Thompson

Legal Executive - Personal Injury team

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