Dr Ogier testing Auditory Brainstem Responses during her first post-doc in the Dabdoub Laboratory, Sunnybrook Research Institute, Toronto Canada.
Our sense of hearing and balance rely on specialised receptor cells located in the ear. These cells are highly vulnerable to damage and cannot regenerate. This causes permanent damage to hearing and balance.
Researchers around the world are working on therapies that could repair hearing or balance but this work is hindered by a lack of human tissue available for research. This is because it is impossible to biopsy. Recent advances in stem cell biology have made it possible to generate human-like tissues in a dish.
Here in Australia, our laboratory developed an ‘inner ear in a dish’ using induced stem cells that can be generated from any person. The lab is now using state of the art single cell sequencing to compare cells from the organoid with cells from donated human inner ears to validate the research tool. Once validated, this model will be used to make discoveries regarding cell death and regeneration in the ear, and as a high throughput drug screening platform with precision medicine applications.