Researchers in the lab of Stefan Heller, MD, PhD, have successfully used mouse stem cells and fibroblasts to re-create the rodent's inner ear cells - right down to the tiny hairs that sense vibrations. The breakthrough makes the normally sparse hair cells much easier to study, and could pave the way to the development of therapies for human hearing loss.
Otolaryngology professor Heller and Stanford postdoc Kazuo Oshima, PhD, appeared in a segment yesterday on KGO describing their result:
Now, with so many testable cells, researchers hope to test drugs on them in the coming years and find a cure for deafness.
"We can look for novel drugs that can lead to regeneration of the cells," Heller says.
Heller and colleagues published their findings in the May 14 issue of Cell.