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.
Sensorineural hearing loss one of the most common forms of deafness, accounting for 90 per cent of cases and affecting more than 6 million people.
The only treatment currently available is cochlear implants, but these electronic devices can never restore the full range of hearing.
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