January 27, 2023


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A new way to deafness - one generation

A new way to deafness – one generation

Scientists from Northwestern Medicine have discovered the key gene that they program hair cells The outer or inner ear. This mechanism can be used to restore hearing.

“Our discovery is the first clear switching between cells that allows the formation of one type of cell over another. This will provide a previously unavailable tool for creating endogenous or exogenous hair cells. We have overcome a serious hurdle,” said Dr. Jaime García Anovros, Professor of Anesthesiology and Neurology and Department of Neurology. Ken and Ruth Dave.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that More than 328 million adults and 32 million children worldwide suffer from severe or severe hearing impairment. While scientists are able to produce an artificial hair cell, it does not differentiate into an inner and an outer cell, which performs various functions necessary for receiving sounds. The discovery by scientists from Northwestern Medicine is a major step toward developing these specific cells.

The death of the outer hair cells Produced by the cochlea is the most common cause of deafness and hearing loss. These cells are produced during embryonic development and do not reproduce. The outer hair cells expand and contract in response to the pressure of sound waves and the sound amplification of the inner hair cells. The inner cells transmit these vibrations to the neurons, which create the sounds we hear.

– It’s like ballet. The outer cells bend, jump, and raise the inner cells to the inside of the ear. The ear is a beautiful organ. There is no such organ in mammals where cells are neatly placed. Otherwise, hearing is not possible – Prof. added. Garcia Novirus.

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Discover now the main gene switchthat reprograms ear hair cells – TBX2. When this gene is expressed, the cell becomes an endothelial cell. When the gene is blocked, the cell becomes an outer hair cell.

Being able to form one of these cells will require the use of a combination of genes. The genes ATOH1 and GF1 are essential for the production of snail hair cells from a non-hair cell. Then TBX2 will be turned on or off to create the desired inner or outer cell, the professor explained. Garcia Novirus.

The ultimate goal of scientists is Reprogramming the supporting cells of the outer or inner hair cells. The supporting cells are arranged in a network between the hair cells and provided with the appropriate scaffolding.

– We can now find out how the inner or outer hair cells are produced and why the latter are more likely to die and cause deafness – concluded Professor K. Garcia Novirus.

The described research is still in the experimental stage.