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J Funct Biomater. 2011 Sep 13;2(3):249-70. doi: 10.3390/jfb2030249.

A review of gene delivery and stem cell based therapies for regenerating inner ear hair cells.

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Bioengineering Program, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA.
Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, University of Kansas School of Medicine, Kansas City, KS 66160, USA.
Bioengineering Program, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA.


Sensory neural hearing loss and vestibular dysfunction have become the most common forms of sensory defects, affecting millions of people worldwide. Developing effective therapies to restore hearing loss is challenging, owing to the limited regenerative capacity of the inner ear hair cells. With recent advances in understanding the developmental biology of mammalian and non-mammalian hair cells a variety of strategies have emerged to restore lost hair cells are being developed. Two predominant strategies have developed to restore hair cells: transfer of genes responsible for hair cell genesis and replacement of missing cells via transfer of stem cells. In this review article, we evaluate the use of several genes involved in hair cell regeneration, the advantages and disadvantages of the different viral vectors employed in inner ear gene delivery and the insights gained from the use of embryonic, adult and induced pluripotent stem cells in generating inner ear hair cells. Understanding the role of genes, vectors and stem cells in therapeutic strategies led us to explore potential solutions to overcome the limitations associated with their use in hair cell regeneration.

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