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A neuron makes contact


Auditory neurons grown from stem cells may treat hearing loss.


A stem cell-derived neuron grafted onto a mouse cochlea in the inner ear that lacked neurons. The new neuron is marked red, hair cells that convert sounds into neural signals are green, and hair bundles are blue.
A stem cell-derived neuron grafted onto a mouse cochlea in the inner ear that lacked neurons. The new neuron is marked red, hair cells that convert sounds into neural signals are green, and hair bundles are blue.
Kelvin Y. Kwan / Rutgers University-New Brunswick

The image above shows a neuron grown from an inner-ear stem cell (the neuron is shown in red) grafted onto a mouse’s cochlea, the part of the inner ear that convert sound vibrations into nerve signals. The cells shown in green are hair cells that carry out the conversion, while hair bundles are shown in blue.

The technique of creating auditory neurons from stem cells, recently pioneered by scientists at Rutgers University in the US, may open the path to treatments for hearing loss caused by nerve degeneration.

The researchers transformed the stem cells into neurons by increasing the activity of a gene called NEUROG1, though they warn it may have the unwanted effect of causing the stem cells to divide too quickly, which poses a cancer risk.

Curated content from the editorial staff at Cosmos Magazine.
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