Professor Rob Shepherd, director of the institute, said, “Results have important implications for strategies to improve the treatment of hearing loss with a combination of a cochlear implant and NTCell”.

A cochlear implant is an electronic device often called a ‘bionic ear’ that is surgically placed into the inner ear (cochlea) of a profoundly deaf person to directly stimulate the remaining auditory nerve.

In the deaf inner ear the auditory nerve cells undergo continuous degeneration.

This loss of nerve cells may be prevented by neurotrophins which are growth and support factors for brain and nerve cells.

The BEI research showed that neurotrophin-producing NTCell, together with

intracochlear electrical stimulation, protects auditory nerve cells from degeneration in an animal model of hearing loss.

LCT’s NTCell implants are porcine choroid plexus cells of the brain that are encapsulated in a gel and when implanted do not require the use of immunosuppressive drugs. NTCell produces many different brain reparative growth and support factors known as neurotrophins. In this study NTCell capsules were successfully implanted into the inner ear of deaf animals.

The scientific results from these studies have been patented. A presentation by

Dr Andrew Wise, BEI scientist, titled “Protection of Spiral Ganglion Neurons with

Neurotrophins and Chronic Electrical Stimulation” is scheduled for 9.15pm on July16th, 2009 at the Conference on Implantable Auditory Prosthesis at Lake Tahoe CA, US.