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 is a confocal image of a sensory hair cell colony generated from a single inner ear progenitor cell at higher magnification. This image shows a close-up of the stereocilia that detect sound. The cell bodies of the sensory cells are labeled in cyan, the stereocilia are in pink/red, and the nuclei are in green.
The image weas 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. The 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.