Lecture: Toward a True Cure for Hearing Impairment, Will McLean

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Thursday, May 17, 2018Description :
Title of lecture: Toward a True Cure for Hearing Impairment Sartorius and Science Prize Finalist 2017: Will McLean, PhD, Frequency Therapeutics Inc., USA Over 360 million people (5% of the population) experience hearing impairment, which is largely caused by the loss of specialized inner ear sensory cells from noise exposure, medications, and other environmental factors. Currently, only devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants exist to treat these patients, both of which do not restore the underlying biological deficit that causes the disease. Will’s initial research identified a new progenitor cell type within the inner ear, and showed that separate populations of progenitors can generate hearing, balance, and neural cell types. Although these progenitor cells are present within the inner ear after development, they are largely incapable of repairing damaged tissue. Using insights garnered from the intestine’s innate regenerative ability, Will’s work demonstrated that a drug combination could induce the normally senescent cochlear hair cell progenitors to divide by reprogramming them to a more plastic state. These progenitor cells could be subsequently converted into nearly pure populations of hair cells. From this initial discovery with single cells, Will found that treating damaged cochleae with these molecules could induce progenitor cells to divide and regenerate lost hair cells in situ. When applied in vivo, these compounds increase hair cell numbers and elicit a functional hearing improvement in animals with hearing loss. Based on these results, Frequency Therapeutics has expanded development of these compounds for human use and recently initiated Phase I clinical safety trials. ? More information about the Sartorius Research Xchange Forum on Trends and Challenges in Regenerative Medicine and Cell Therapy 2018: https://promotions.sartorius.com/rxf2018/

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