Hair Cell Regeneration: What do Audiologists Need to Know?

This presentation is designed for non-biologists who want to learn more about the cellular and molecular mechanisms which underlie future directions for therapeutic intervention and/or prevention of hearing loss. The presentation reviews basic cell biology and mechanisms of the cell cycle as well as genetic mechanisms in cell fate determination. Molecular factors which regulate the cell cycle, such as cyclin dependent kinases, growth factors and tumor suppressing proteins, are described in terms of their function in regulating the cell through each stage of the cycle. Morphogenetic controls of cell differentiation are described in terms of their function in the potential conversion of endogenous cochlear non-hair cells to a hair cell fate in embryonic and adult mammals. Recent advances in the use of stem cells and gene therapy in the mammalian cochlea are reviewed. Finally, functional changes in hearing based on evidence from mammalian and avian models will demonstrate the feasibility of these approaches for the restoration of hearing. Course participants will be encouraged to actively participate during the presentation as well as ask/answer questions at the completion of the presentation.

Learning Objectives:
After this presentation, participants will be able to:
1. Describe the cell cycle and genetic and molecular factors that regulate mitosis and cell differentiation.
2. Define stem cells and state one way in which they might be used to regenerate hair cells.
3. Describe gene therapy and state one way in which it can be used to regenerate or replace hair cells.