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Can hearing loss soon be cured?
According to a recent study, the reprogramming of cells in the inner ear makes it possible to regenerate sensory hair cells and other important types of inner ear cells. Such a process could reverse hearing loss.
The Massachusetts Eye and Ear's recent investigation found that reprogramming certain cells in the ear can help reverse hearing loss. The results of the study were published in the English language journal "Nature Communications".
Success in experiments with mice
The researchers have come a step closer to developing treatments for hearing loss. Through reprogramming, the inner ear cells of mice were able to regenerate. These cells were responsible for hearing loss.
Does the treatment also work in humans?
The new strategy for induction of cell division enables reprogramming of cells of the inner ear that are important for hearing. In the future, sensory hair cells and other important types of inner ear cells could be regenerated in people with hearing loss.
Results create the basis for the treatment of hearing loss
In the current study, mammalian inner ear cells were first made to divide and thus become hair cells that are required for hearing. This renewed cell proliferation and hair cell formation in a fully developed inner ear form the basis for a treatment against hearing loss.
How does permanent hearing loss occur?
Hearing loss is one of the most common forms of sensory deficit in humans. Inner ear cells of humans and other mammals are actually not able to divide or regenerate. Therefore, damage to the inner ear, especially the hair cells, leads to permanent hearing loss.
Permanent damage to the ears from noise
Hair cells are specialized inner ear cells that are responsible for converting vibrations into electrical signals, which are then passed on to the brain. A number of genetic and environmental factors, such as exposure to loud noises and aging, destroy these key cells in the hearing system. There are currently no pharmaceutical treatments for hearing loss.
Why can't people regenerate hair cells in the ear?
Previous studies on mice have shown that only inner ear cells of newborns can be stimulated to split and regenerate hair cells after damage. In fully developed ears, however, the ability to divide cells is lost. The hair cells are then no longer regenerated. In humans, even in newborns, the inner ear is already fully developed.
Study addresses fundamental problem of treating hearing loss
The most important aspect of the current study is the fact that a mammal's fully mature inner ear still has the ability to divide and regenerate when certain cells are reprogrammed. This removes a fundamental barrier which has prevented regeneration of the inner ear necessary for the restoration of the hearing.
Can other cells regenerate in the future?
The researchers hope that their study can serve as a model for the regeneration of other tissues with similar properties that are actually not able to regrow cells, such as in the retina and central nervous system. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Yilai Shu, Wenyan Li, Mingqian Huang, Yi-Zhou Quan, Deborah Scheffer et al .: Renewed proliferation in adult mouse cochlea and regeneration of hair cells, in Nature Communications (query: 05.12.2019), Nature Communications