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Protein Identified for New Hearing Hair Cell Development

Scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) say they have conducted a study that has determined the role that a critical protein plays in the development of hair cells which are vital for hearing. Some of these cells amplify sounds that come into the ear, and others transform sound waves into electrical signals that travel to the brain.

Ronna Hertzano, MD, PhD, associate professor in the department of otorhinolaryngology-head and neck surgery at UMSOM and Maggie Matern, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University, demonstrated that the protein, called GFI1, may be critical for determining whether an embryonic hair cell matures into a functional adult hair cell or becomes a different cell that functions more like a nerve cell or neuron.

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