How are sensory and non-sensory regions of the cochlea specified?
Hearing loss is one of the most common birth defects. Approximately one in five hundred newborns suffer from significant hearing impairment. In addition, once mechanosensory hair cells in the inner ear are damaged and lost by any of a variety of reasons such as aging and loud noises, they never regenerate. Thus, majority of sensorineural hearing loss, such as age-related hearing loss and noise-induced hearing loss is permanent and significantly affect the quality of ones life. Recently, stem cell research has shed light on the possibility of regeneration of hair cells in humans. Our research goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms of inner ear development and to explore the possibility of regenerating sensory cells to treat hearing and balance disorders.