Profs. Neil Segil and Andy Groves
June 27, 2006
Researchers at House Ear Institute/USC have found a clue in their search for potential therapeutic targets to regenerate sensory hair cells in the inner ear to restore hearing.
The mouse ear may hold the potential for cell regeneration to restore hearing: Loss of the sensory hair cells of the inner ear is the major cause of deafness in humans. In mammals these cells do not regenerate, although in many other vertebrates, such as birds and reptiles, regeneration does occurs through the stimulation of the surrounding supporting cells to divide and transdifferentiate. House Ear Institute/USC scientists have now shown that purified supporting cells from the early postnatal mouse organ of Corti retain a latent capacity to divide and transdifferentiate into hair cells. While not a cure for hearing loss, this work provides evidence that the supporting cells are a valid target for future efforts at stimulating regeneration, as well as providing a biochemical target for potential therapeutic intervention.