Unlike birds, fish and amphibians, mammals cannot regenerate the hair cells in the inner ear that are responsible for hearing.  Once those hair cells are lost or damaged, the hearing loss is permanent.  However, there are promising advancements on the horizon.  Research being done at Stanford University by Stefan Heller, Ph. D. is showing mouse stem cells being used to create specialized inner-ear hair cells in mice.

Dr. Sandra Miller of Associated Hearing reports, “I often tell my patients I never thought I would see this applicable to humans in my lifetime, but as research advances the possibilities become foreseeable.”  The ultimate goal of Dr. Heller’s research is not transplantation of hair cells through surgery, but the ability to test inner ear tissue to study the cause of hearing loss, the effects of toxic medications on the inner ear and what potential medications could be used to regenerate hair cells that have been damaged.  “I may not see the applications of this research during my professional career, but the potential insight we will gain will be invaluable,” states Dr. Miller.

If you have questions or concerns regarding your hearing, contact Dr. Sandra Miller from Associated Hearing at (402) 489-4418 or see us online at http://www.associatedhearing.net.