Scientists find ‘master gene’ to regrow lost ear hair cells for restoring hearing in mice

Death of outer hair cells made by ear’s cochlea is most often cause of hearing loss, scientists say

Vishwam Sankaran
Monday 09 May 2022 15:27
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<p>Scanning electron microscope image of the hair bundles of inner and outer hair cells from the mouse cochlea</p>

Scanning electron microscope image of the hair bundles of inner and outer hair cells from the mouse cochlea

Scientists have discovered a single “master gene” that programmes ear hair cells into either outer or inner ones, an advance that they say can help overcome a major hurdle to restoring hearing.

Researchers, including those from Northwestern University in the US, say hearing loss either due to aging, noise, or certain cancer therapy drugs and antibiotics, has been irreversible since effective methods do not exist for reprogramming existing cells to develop into the outer and inner ear sensory cells – essential for hearing – once they die.

While currently there are ways to produce artificial hair cells, scientists say these do not differentiate the hair cells into inner or outer ear cells, which provide different essential functions to produce hearing.

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