Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Mis-haired

Mapping the gene activity involved in the inner ear's sensory hair cell development

08 August 2020

Mis-haired

You may not want hair growing out of your ears, but hairs lying deep inside our ears are essential to us all. Along the cochlea, a spiral-shaped structure of the inner ear, tiny hairs pick up sound and help us hear. The cells that support these hairs are arranged in a dense mosaic, and can't regenerate or repair like many other cells, making some hearing loss conditions hard to treat. A new study analysed cell growth and structure in great detail at four stages of early development (hair cells highlighted pink in a newborn mouse cochlea pictured), and the researchers have made this developmental map freely available. They discovered that genes linked to two known hearing-loss conditions are involved in sensory hair growth, and revealed factors that drive early growth, which may help researchers hoping to steer the growth of stem cells to provide replacement cells for patients.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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