Hearing loss and Stem Cells

Acquired sensorineural hearing loss is a loss in hearing after birth. The condition has a variety of causes including aging, noise, tumours, or medicines. Viral infections such as measles, mumps and meningitis can also cause hearing loss, as can trauma to the head or inner ear.[1]  Damage to the auditory nerve or to the sensitive hair cells inside the inner ear is the ultimate cause.[2]

Unfortunately, acquired sensorineural hearing loss is permanent and hearing cannot be regained; however, at present hearing aids may help those affected. In severe cases, a cochlear implant can be of benefit.[1]

Hearing Loss Facts

  • Over 10 million people in the UK have some loss of hearing, that’s 1 in 6 of the population[3]
  • By 2035, it is estimated that there will be 15.6 million people with hearing loss in the UK – that’s 1 in 5[4]
  • 7 million sufferers are of working age (16-64)[3]
  • The World Health Organisation predicts that it will be a bigger burden than diabetes and cataracts[3]
  • There are an estimated 150,000 adults with acquired profound hearing loss in the UK[3]
  • There is currently 1 clinical trial investigating the application of cord blood in for treatment[6]

Acquired Sensorineural Hearing Loss and Stem Cells

Unfortunately there is no treatment currently available which can repair or reverse acquired hearing loss. However, recent trials using human umbilical cord blood in animal models have shown regrowth of hair cells and some recovery of the auditory brainstem response. These trials with animal models have now developed into a human trial. The trial aims to determine safety, efficacy, and if an infusion of the child’s own cord blood stem cells can improve their hearing, inner ear function, and language development.[5]

There are currently 11 clinical trials investigating the application of stem cells in hearing loss[7]


  1. http://www.healthyhearing.com/report/50276-Common-causes-of-sensorineural-hearing-loss
  2. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hearing-impairment/Pages/Causes.aspx
  3. http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/your-hearing/about-deafness-and-hearing-loss/statistics.aspx
  4. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02038972?term=acquired+sensorineural+hearing+loss+cord+blood&rank=1
  5. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?term=stem+cells+acquired+sensorineural+hearing+loss&Search=Search
  6. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?term=stem+cells+hearing+loss&Search=Search
  7. Journal of audiology & otology22(4), 209–222. https://doi.org/10.7874/jao.2018.00115

The information contained in this article is for information purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of a medical expert. If you have any concerns about your health we urge you to discuss them with your doctor.

Hearing Loss


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