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Possible advancement in treatments against hearing loss

Posted on: 27/Feb/2017 10:29:09 AM
Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in US have found a cocktail of drugs that can regenerate hair cells in the inner ear, an advance that may pave the way for new treatments against hearing loss.

Each human is born with about 15,000 hair cells per ear, these cells detect sound waves and translate them into nerve signals that allow us to hear speech, music, and other everyday sounds. Once damaged, these cells cannot regrow.

Say the researchers, Hearing loss is a real problem as people get older. It`s very much of an unmet need, and this is an entirely new approach. We decided to explore whether the same approach would work on supporting cells. we exposed cells from a mouse cochlea, grown in a lab dish, to molecules that stimulate the Wnt pathway, which makes the cells multiply rapidly. We used small molecules to activate the supporting cells so they become proliferative and can generate hair cells. Once we had a large pool of immature progenitor cells, the researchers added another set of molecules that provoked the cells to differentiate into mature hair cells, producing 60 times more mature hair cells than previously used techniques. Since the treatment involves a simple drug exposure, it will be easier to administer it to humans, with the help of an injection. We hope that our work will allow other scientists to pursue studies of supporting cells and hair cells that have not been possible because such limited quantities of hair cells were available.

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