Stem-cell research has reportedly resulted in a breakthrough in the area of regenerating hearing cells in the inner ear, but actual treatment based on new techniques may be some 20-30 years into the future for those with damage in the cells that transform sound waves in the ear into nerve impulses in the brain, according to the stem-cell researchers.

"We have succeeded in modifying hearing stem-cells from a fetus so they are directed to the area of the inner ear where they become part of the tissue they are supposed to repair,” explained Allen Ryan, professor at University of California at San Diego. Ryan is a scientist involved in the regeneration research.

According to Ryan, the experiments proved that young vestibular tissue implanted into damaged tissue is able to transform itself into hearing cells and even form hair cells. Inner ear hair cells are essential for hearing.

Source: El País; report modified from the release found at