Deafness Fact Sheet
There are many different causes of deafness from genetics and injury to excessive noise or disease. CIRM is supporting research into potential therapies for many of these forms of hearing loss.
If you want to learn more about CIRM funding decisions or make a comment directly to our board, join us at a public meeting. You can find agendas for upcoming public meetings on our meetings page.
Find clinical trials:
CIRM does not track stem cell clinical trials. If you or a family member is interested in participating in a clinical trial, please see the national trial database to find a trial near you: clinicaltrials.gov
Stem cell research for deafness
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) approximately 36 million American adults have some form of hearing loss.
One of the most common causes of deafness occurs when the cells that detect sound in the inner ear, or cochlea, lose their function. These cells contain highly sensitive hair-like structures that turn sound into electrical signals. The signals are then transmitted to the brain where they are interpreted as sound. If the hairs are damaged by injury, exposure to loud noises, toxins or genetic conditions they are no longer able to transmit sounds to the brain.
Researchers in California and elsewhere have developed ways of coaxing stem cells to form these hair-like structures in the lab. Their discovery raises the hope that hair cells derived from stem cells could ultimately replace the damaged cells and restore hearing.
Other researchers are investigating whether stem cells can protect remaining hair cells or be used to replace the nerve that transmits sound signals from the ear to the brain.
CIRM Grants Targeting Deafness
|Researcher name||Institution||Grant Title||Approved funds|
|Stefan Heller||Stanford University||Generation of inner ear sensory cells from human ES cells toward a cure for deafness||$2,330,371|
|Ebenezer Yamoah||University of California, Davis||Hair Cells and Spiral Ganglion Neuron Differentiation from Human Embryonic Stem Cells||$458,071|
|Alan Cheng||Stanford University||Enhancing hair cell regeneration in mouse and human inner ear||$3,091,595|
CIRM Deafness Videos
News and Information
- CIRMResearch Blog entries on deafness research
- Stem Cells Explored As Hearing Loss Treatment (Stanford University)
- UC Davis researchers coax brain cells to mimic inner ear sensory cells (UC Davis)