Hidden Hearing Respond to Researchers Creating Inner Ear from Stem Cells

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Specialists in private hearing healthcare, Hidden Hearing, have responded to important new research that could enable key inner ear structures to be created from stem cells.

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This new research determined that cells needed to be provided with an environment that was more like that found in the body during early development

Scientists from Indiana University have managed to transform embryonic stem cells into key structures of the inner ear, providing a better idea of the ear’s developmental process and creating the possibility for potential treatments for hearing loss and balance disorders – reports research journal Nature on July 10 in the research paper entitled ‘Generation of inner ear sensory epithelia from pluripotent stem cells in 3D culture’.

The research team at Indiana University School of Medicine have said that by using a three-dimensional cell culture method, they could encourage stem cells to develop into inner-ear sensory epithelia, which contain hair cells and supporting cells and neurons, which would be able to detect sound, head movements and gravity.

There have been previous attempts to grow inner-ear hair cells in standard cell culture systems. But these failed to work well because necessary factors to develop hair bundles, a vital factor of sensory hair cells and important for detecting auditory and vestibular signals were lacking in the flat cell-culture dish.

This new research determined that cells needed to be provided with an environment that was more like that found in the body during early development. The team mimicked this with the precisely timed used of several small molecules that prompted the stem cells to differentiate into precursors of the inner ear. Electrophysiology testing further proved that those hair cells generated from stem cells were functional, and were the type that sense gravity and motion.

A spokesperson from Hidden Hearing said:

“This research provides an important step in the ability to further understand the workings of the inner ear and develop potential treatments for hearing loss. This research shows further promise than its predecessors and represents an important step in research of the inner workings of the ear.”

With more than 40 years’ experience in treating hearing loss, Hidden Hearing is entrusted with the care of more than 100,000 people each year. The firm has 84 hearing centres across the UK, all catering for a range of needs and budgets. Specialising in hearing tests and hearing aids, the company also offer a variety of hearing aid accessories and in 2005, became the first dedicated hearing retailer to be recognised as an Investor in People.

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Vicky Moore
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