Will J. McLean, PhD; Xiaolei Yin, PhD; Albert SB Edge, PhD, Jeffrey M. Karp, Robert Langer, ScD
Sensory hair cells are the cells within our ear that detect sound. They do this when sound pressure causes a deflection of hair-like cilia on their surface. Death of these cells by loud noise or toxic drugs leads to hearing loss.
This a confocal image showing a high purity population of hundreds of sensory hair cells generated from a single inner ear progenitor cell. Cyan shows the cell bodies, while pink/red is the cilia that detect sound.
This image was taken to assess whether inner ear sensory hair cells could be created in large numbers from first propagating inner ear progenitor cells with small molecules, then subsequently converting them into sensory hair cells with a different combination of small molecules. This image was also taken to show that the cells have all the correct structural components to detect sound. The overall goal was to understand how to control cell fate with small molecules to drive regeneration of the cells that sense sound within the inner ear.