Supporting cells in the vestibular sensory epithelia from the ears of mature guinea pigs and adult humans proliferate in vitro after treatments with aminoglycoside antibiotics that cause sensory hair cells to die. After 4 weeks in culture, the epithelia contained new cells with some characteristics of immature hair cells. These findings are in contrast to expectations based on previous studies, which had suggested that hair cell loss is irreversible in mammals. The loss of hair cells is responsible for hearing and balance deficits that affect millions of people.
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