Stem cell hope for NIHL sufferers

Stem cell hope for NIHL sufferers

Scientists at Harvard University have used stem cells to create human hair cells which detect sound in the inner ear, offering a potential future therapy for sufferers of noise induced hearing loss.

Dr Jeff Karp, based at Brigham & Women’s University at Harvard, looked at the way birds and amphibians were able to regenerate hair cells throughout their life, unlike humans, and went on to research ways of regenerating human hair cells.  The biomedical engineer successfully grew over 11,000 cells – more than 60 times that achieved in earlier attempts.

Dr Karp said that the research findings ‘show promise for a therapy to treat patients with hearing loss’, which affects more than 11 million people in the UK. He believes that drugs created from this study could be injected into the middle ear, diffuse across a membrane into the inner ear, and begin the process of hair-cell regeneration.

Dr Karp and colleagues have established a start-up, Frequency Therapeutics, with the aim of developing a treatment for hearing loss, and they hope to begin human clinical trials within 18 months. ‘Frequency’s development of a disease-modifying therapeutic that can be administered with a simple injection could have a profound effect on chronic noise-induced hearing loss,’ said Dr Chris Loose, the company’s co-founder.

Noise induced hearing loss is typically caused by a single loud noise or repeated exposure to a noisy environment.

If you are employed in a loud environment or work in close proximity to noisy machinery or equipment, this may have led to your hearing damage. Employees who suffer from noise induced hearing loss, whose employers have not implemented adequate policies and procedures to reduce or control any related hazards, can look to claim compensation for any damage caused.

Contact Roberts Jackson

If you would like to find out more about claiming compensation for noise induced hearing loss, please feel free to get in contact with Roberts Jackson on 0800 001 4496 for an initial consultation. Alternatively, you can read our guide on how to claim for industrial deafness or fill in a claims enquiry form on the right to start your claims process.