The National Institutes on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) funded Stefan Heller, PhD, (Stanford University School of Medicine) in his quest to create functional hair cells from stem cells. Heller and associates began their work with stem cells from mouse embryos and used multiple growth-inducing substances such as fibroblast growth factors, which made the cells cluster and display hair cell-like characteristics with hair cell bundles at their tips. When the hair cell bundles were stimulated, they generated electrochemical currents similar to those produced by young hair cells. Heller's team plans to initiate experiments to search for the biochemical basis for the inner ear to regrow hair cells. Finding the chemical switch to initiate hair cell regeneration is likely to take some time. “We’re one step further on a journey,” says Heller. “It will take a while until we reach any kind of clinical relevance.”
For More Information, References, and Recommendations
National Institutes on Deafness and other Communication Disorders: NIDCD-funded researchers cook up first recipe for functional hair cells from stem cells. Online July 8, 2010.