This unusual image from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) Flickr photo stream depicts mouse embryonic stem cells that have matured into bundles of hair cells similar to the ones that transmit sound in the ear. The CIRM photo caption notes:
These cells could one day be transplanted as a therapy for some forms of deafness, or they could be used to screen drugs to treat deafness. The hairs are shown at 2,700 times magnification via scanning electron microscopy.
The image comes from the lab of Stefan Heller, MD, PhD, at Stanford. As previously reported on Scope, Heller and colleagues 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. Their findings were published in May 2101 in Cell.