Regeneration of Inner Ear Cells from Stem Cell Precursors— A Future Concept of Hearing Rehabilitation?

Dazert, S.; Aletsee, C.; Brors, D.; Sudhoff, H.; Ryan, A.F.; Müller, A.M.
September 2003
DNA & Cell Biology;Sep2003, Vol. 22 Issue 9, p565
Academic Journal
The use of stem cells offers new and powerful strategies for future tissue development and engineering. Common features of stem cells are both their capacity for self-renewal and the ability to differentiate into mature effector cells. Since the establishment of embryonic stem cells from early human embryos, research on and clinical application of human ES cells belong to the most controversial topics in our society. Great hopes are based upon the remarkable observation that human ES cells can be greatly expanded in vitro, and that they can differentiate into various clinically important cell types. Recent advances in the cloning of mammals by nuclear transplantation provide new concepts for autologous replacement of damaged and degenerated tissues. In contrast, somatic stem cells of the adult organism were considered to be more restricted in their developmental potential. However, recent investigations suggest that somatic stem cells may have a wider differentiation potential than previously thought. In otology, initial experiments have revealed neural stem cell survival in cochlear cell cultures and under neurotrophin influence, neural stem cells seemed to develop into a neuronal phenotype. Further studies have to be carried out to investigate the full potential of stem cells as well as the molecular mechanisms that are involved in regulating cellular identity and plasticity. Clinically, advances in stem cell biology may provide a permanent source of replacement cells for treating human diseases and could open the development of new concepts for cell and tissue regeneration for a causal treatment of chronic degenerative diseases.


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