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Hail Body Perfection!

haircells.jpgThe Daily Telegraph is carrying an article on Hairs grown from stem cells could restore hearing to the deaf.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield have created the complex hair cells and the neurons needed for hearing from human stem cells.

They found they could encourage stem cells from the inner ears of human foetuses to grow into these highly specialised hearing cells.

The scientists hope they will eventually be able to use the cells to perform cell transplants in deaf patients to replace the hair cells and neurons that are damaged in a form of deafness known as sensorineural hearing loss.

The human race has an obsession with body perfection, and judging other people's bodies. It is often said that your body is your own private entity, but too often the mainstream thinks it has a claim on this by throwing judgment (be it by the way you look, or are quite happy being deaf). If you don't conform to these parameters, then sometimes it comes with actions that you don't have the right to fit into society. I've lost count the number of hearing people who are downright horrified that I won't entertain a CI. This pressure comes from media perceptions, the images so called charities throw about, and if you don't tow the line then tough.

It goes onto state the medical time frame of this project:

He warned it could be at least 10 years before human patients could receive stem cell transplants to restore their own hearing.

But he added: "In the shorter term, these cells also provide us with a very good model for studying the development of human hearing and the effect that new drug treatments may have on them."

In the article, RNID's intolerance of deaf people who they are and gives this message out to society, shines through again:

Dr Ralphe Holme, director of biomedical research for the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, said: "There are currently no treatments to restore permanent hearing loss so this has the potential to make a difference to millions of deaf people."

Nice one! Who represents our interests again?

And before anyone slams me for it - some people want to hear yadda yadda - it would have been more tactful for them to include "difference to ... deaf people where they want it" and something about how deaf people have a right to exist and participate just as they are. Who ever addresses society pressure, and say, my needs? Instead of doing this, voluntary organisations frequently add to the problem. Do they have the intelligence to see this? Prove it, action speaks louder than words.

Daily Telegraph: Hairs grown from stem cells could restore hearing to the deaf
Dr Marcelo N. Rivolta

Photo credit: Dr David Furness, Wellcome Images via LoreleiRanveig under CC

Comments (3)

After reading the article, I was more interested in the statement:
"The only treatment currently available is cochlear implants, but these electronic devices can never restore the full range of hearing."

This is cruel statement where the 'cure' of the 90's is no longer a good enough cure today! This is a financial agenda in which to remove money from CIs and into stem cell research. They are playing with us again.

But what is worst is that the thousands of Cochlear Implantees will not be able to benefit from stem cell research, their inner ear structures have been damage in order to insert the electrical filament. Remember the film, I Robot, when the old generation robots were discarded for the new ones ...

I get the impression that your main concern is with the representation of (say) deafness and a lack of understanding of Deaf culture, rather than questioning the societal drive behind the science itself. One wonders whether in a pluralistic future in which individual choices are made–like the current one where you opt for Deafness while others opt for cochlear implants–can be more tolerant, supportive, and even facilitative of those choices than our current world is.

Gregor Wolbring has also just posted on this at the What Sorts blog, drawing on the BBC story on it.

I think you are doing human trials, at least with children (see the web cordbloodregistry -->> http://www.cordblood.com/regenerative-medicine/hearingloss.asp ).
In this blog http://deafdude1.blogspot.com/2009/08/stem-cells-for-deafness-begins-human.html you can also stay informed on human trials.

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