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Friday, September 23, 2022

Newly Discovered Proteins Facilitated Cell Regeneration and Hearing Restoration in Zebrafish

The findings of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study reveal a specific network of proteins capable of hearing restoration in zebrafish. National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) scientists who led the study theorize that this discovery may lead to future treatment options for hearing loss in humans. The study was published in Cell Genomics this August. 

The study identified two families of transcription factorsSox and Six transcription factorsthat together activate hair cell regeneration.

Hair cell loss can't be replaced in humans, but in several animals, such as zebrafish, hearing can be restored after injury by hair cell regeneration. Scientists hope to gain valuable insights about regeneration by investigating the regenerative properties of zebrafish hair cells.

Humans and zebrafish share more than 70% of their genes, which offers hope that the recent findings in zebrafish could one day be translated to humans.

“Humans and other mammals are born with a set number of hair cells that are slowly lost through aging and trauma. However some animals, such as zebrafish, can regenerate hair cells and recover hearing after injury," said Shawn Burgess, PhD, investigator in the NHGRI Translational and Functional Genomics Branch. “How and why regeneration happens in these animals remain a mystery that many scientists would like to unravel." Burgess co-led the study with researchers from the National Library of Medicine's National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Learn more about this ground-breaking scientific discovery.