Hearing hair-cells in adult mammals regenerated for the first time
— Potential treatment for deafness
Harvard Medical School researchers used a drug on the cochlea of deaf mice that stimulated stem cells (that were isolated from the ear) to grow new hair cells within the inner ear. The drug inhibited a signal generated by a protein called Notch and the supporting cells turned into new hair cells. The deaf mice now had improved hearing and the improvements could be traced to where the drug had been placed and the new hair cells grew.
"We’re excited about these results because they are a step forward in the biology of regeneration and prove that mammalian hair cells have the capacity to regenerate," Dr. Edge said. "With more research, we think that regeneration of hair cells opens the door to potential therapeutic applications in deafness."
The images are of stereocilia, the bundles of hair within the inner ear that allow for hearing.