They discover how to regenerate the cells that allow hearing

Scientists at Northwestern University in the USA claim to have overcome one of the “great obstacles” that prevented the inner ear cells responsible for hearing from regenerating.

Researchers from Northwestern University in the United States published a study in the scientific journal Nature in which they identify the gene responsible for the hair cells, essential for humans to be able to perceive sound, to differentiate between them and develop different functions .

The outer hair cells expand and contract in response to the pressure exerted by sound waves, which allows the signal to be amplified, while the inner ones transmit this vibration to the neurons, so that the brain is able to notice the sounds of the environment. around.

The death of this second type of cells is often related to deafness and hearing problems.

Until now, scientists had been able to produce hair cells, but had not found the specific mechanism to differentiate between their two functions.

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“Our discovery provides us with the first clear cellular switch to be able to create one or another type” of cells, Jaime Garcia-Anoveros, lead author of the work, said in a statement from his university.

The study identifies the TBX2 gene as the key that remained to be identified in this process. The cell becomes an outer hair cell when the gene is blocked, or an inner hair cell when the gene is expressed.

“Now we know how to specifically create internal or external cells and identify why the former are more likely to die and cause deafness,” says Garcia-Anoveros.

Although the researcher stresses that his work is still in an “experimental phase”, he details that his goals are directed towards the possibility of reprogramming other ear cells so that they can replace hair cells that have died due to aging, medical treatments or other Causes.

ee / (efe/Nature)

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