Cells could cure hereditary deafness

Scientists believe they are on the brink of a cure for people born deaf after producing stem cells to correct a hereditary defect.

Experts have found a way of growing new cells for the cochlea, the spiral cavity of the inner ear.

These can be used to replace faulty ones in people deaf from birth due to a genetic error.

They hope a treatment could be available to patients within five to 10 years.

Professor Kazusaku Kamiya, a specialist in ear diseases who is leading the research, said: “I am very excited by what we have done. We hope this work will lead to a cure for a form of hereditary deafness.

“We have found a way to make cochlear stem cells. The next step is to find a way to safely inject them into the patient’s ear.”

The work, which is being carried out in a laboratory at Juntendo University in Tokyo, Japan, aims to correct a mutation in a gene called Gap Junction Beta 2, which accounts for deafness or hearing loss for one in a thousand children.

Half of parents also said grocery bills were an obstacle.

The poll, a nationally representative survey of 910 parents with at least one child age 13 to 18, focused on four different diets.

Overall, 9 percent of parents said their teen had tried a vegetarian diet, while 6 percent said their child went gluten-free, 4 percent mentioned a vegan diet and 2 percent said their kid went paleo.

A vegan diet includes only fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, grains and seeds. Some vegetarians may eat dairy products or eggs in addition to these foods. The Paleolithic, or paleo diet, includes foods like meat, nuts and berries but excludes more recent additions to the human diet like dairy.

Gluten-free diets avoid wheat, barley and rye and derivatives of those grains, such as malt and brewer’s yeast. For children and adults with celiac disease, strict avoidance of gluten is essential, but experts generally advise people who think they may have celiac disease to check with a doctor before adopting a gluten-free diet.