Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine have found a possible way of growing inner-ear hair cells, which allow one to hear and control balance. In the past, all attempts to recreate the highly complex cells have gone poorly. However, in an environment similar to that of the body in early development, scientists have found it possible to grow fully functional hair cells.
Since these hair cells can detect sound, head movement and gravity, these findings could be useful in the treatment of hearing loss and balance disorders. The cells which connect the inner-ear to the brain also developed naturally during this process, making it possible for the brain to receive the signals sent out by the hair cells.
The current findings are a result of testing done on mice, but research can soon begin for a possible application of the process to humans. While there is still much to be learned, the study has increased the understanding of the functionality of the inner-ear and has made possible the development of models for new drugs to treat inner-ear disorders.