New inner ear hair cells grow in rat tissue | Science News



Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


New inner ear hair cells grow in rat tissue

2:43pm, November 15, 2002

As many aging rock stars have learned, hearing loss due to inner ear damage is irreversible. Loud music assaults the cochlea, the snail-shaped organ of the inner ear whose tiny hair cells detect sound vibrations. The cochlea translates these into electrical impulses that nerves carry to the brain. Once destroyed, hair cells don't regenerate.

Researchers at Genentech in South San Francisco now report that they've grown new hair cells in tissue taken from newborn rats' cochleas. The scientists used fresh supplies of a gene, Math1, to promote hair cell growth. Although the researchers studied only cells in laboratory dishes, their findings raise hopes that deafness from inner ear damage might be reversible.

"It's an exciting study," says Thomas R. Van De Water, an otolaryngologist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. The work is the first to initiate hair cell growth by adding Math1, he says.

In each develo

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content