Cure for hearing loss on the horizon
PHOENIX -- Researchers from Stanford University say they are on the cusp of a cure for hearing loss. They are in Phoenix to give presentations on their work and stopped by the 3TV's studio Thursday to talk about their progress.
Dr. Robert Jackler, otolaryngologist and professor at Stanford University, is the department chairman of the university's Initiative to Cure Hearing Loss. He says his team of researchers is made up of scientists with diverse backgrounds, including geneticists, chemists, biologists, engineers and medical doctors. His hope is to begin clinical trials within the next 10 years.
Dr. Stefan Heller said they have made major scientific breakthroughs in the past five to 10 years.
The Stanford team is exploring several different avenues for curing hearing loss, including stem cell therapy. Heller said they are able to create regenerative cells from a person's own skin cells. They hope to use those cells to re-grow damaged hair cells within the inner ear that are necessary for hearing.
Gene therapy, molecular therapy and neural stimulation are also options the scientists in Northern California are exploring as possible options for curing hearing loss.
While the causes of hearing loss have a wide range, Jackler hopes their breakthroughs will eventually help millions, including children, those who have lost hearing because of harsh drugs used to treat cancer or other diseases, veterans who lose their hearing after exposure to the loud explosions from improvised explosive devices, and the elderly whose hearing has diminished with age.
For more information on the research at Stanford University, you can check out their website, hearinglosscure.stanford.edu.