Stem cell researchers have made a breakthrough they believe could someday cure deafness, the Times of London reports. The British team, working with stem cells from the inner ear, have successfully grown early versions of the cells that enable hearing and now aim to create functional cells that can be transplanted into the inner ear to reverse hearing loss. Researchers say a cure for total hearing loss is still at least a decade away, but believe their work can be used immediately to test new drugs and probe the causes of deafness. "This research is incredibly promising and opens up exciting possibilities by bringing us closer to restoring hearing in the future,” said a research director at the Royal National Institute for the Deaf.
President Obama signed an order today allowing federal taxpayer dollars to fund expanded embryonic stem cell research, reversing a George W. Bush policy viewed by many as blocking development of potentially life-saving medical treatment. Obama said he was ending what he believed was "a false choice between sound science and moral values" and opening the road for important medical research. Obama urged Congress to follow up with legislation that would lift a further ban on experiments that create new embryos. He closed the door to cloning of embryos for human reproduction, and issued a slap at the Bush administration in declaring that politics not science had driven its policy. Today's order, Obama said, "is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology."
"Medical miracles do not happen simply by accident. They result from painstaking and costly research from years of lonely trial and error, much of which never bears fruit, and from a government willing to support that work."
- President Obama