Dr. Ebenezer Yamoah shared his ground-breaking work utilizing stem cells to restore inner ear cells with the aim of helping individuals overcome deafness.
The talented Dr. Ebenezer Yamoah is renowned for his work, both past and present, in the fields of cellular biology and neuroscience. Today, one of his primary research projects involves investigating the calcium-dependent functions in hair cells and in spinal ganglion neurons and that research builds upon the years of work Dr. Ebenezer Yamoah has done that has paved the road towards investigations and discoveries in how to utilize stem cells to restore inner ear cells. This work and much of his previous research have been funded in part by the National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders (NIDCD).
In 2008, Dr. Ebenezer Yamoah spoke at an educational event entitled Spotlight on Deafness, hosted by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Dr. Ebenezer Yamoah was introduced by Claire Pomeroy, Ph.D., M.B.A., Dean of the University of California’s School of Medicine and Vice Chancellor for Human Health also at UC. In her introduction, Dr. Pomeroy noted that it was the hope that the ongoing research done by Dr. Ebenezer Yamoah would lead to the ability for scientists to create a biological implant that would replace the cochlear implant. To create such a biological implant utilizing stem cells, one would be able to restore hearing while simultaneously preserving the structure and function of the sensory cells and nerves of the inner ear.
In the seminar, Dr. Ebenezer Yamoah explains that a key part of the problem here is that while the human is born with approximately 10,000 inner ear hair cells, those hair cells do not regenerate compared to hair cells in lower vertebrates (e.g. birds). Rather, when they degenerate, and the body cannot restore or regenerate them. Thus, Dr. Ebenezer Yamoah began the hunt for cells elsewhere in the body that are similar enough to these hair cells to replace them.
Dr. Ebenezer Yamoah noted that this idea of restoring hearing via stem cells is something that would benefit a significant portion of the population as 10 percent of the population at any given time experiences some type of hearing loss. Such haring loss includes those caused by genetics, infections, drug use (including the legal use of medications with side effects causing a hearing loss), acoustic trauma, and age.
The goal, Dr. Ebenezer Yamoah explained in the seminar on deafness, was to grow stem cells capable of replicating the inner ear hair cells, inject them directly into the inner ear, and encourage them to incorporate themselves into the temporal bone.
The ideas Dr. Ebenezer Yamoah shared in this seminar quickly spread, inspiring research at schools like Stanford Medicine and Rutgers University-New Brunswick into how stem cells could be used in the inner ear and how they could be used to reverse hearing loss.