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Applying Stem Cell Technologies to Hearing Research

Human-specific cell‐based models to validate drugs or gene therapies for hearing loss represent a critical missing component of the therapeutic pipeline. Stem cell technologies offer new tools to generate in vitro inner ear sensory cell types to model disease and establish robust preclinical screening platforms. In vitro differentiation of pluripotent stem cells and direct reprogramming of somatic/non-sensory cell types to inner ear hair cells and otic neurons represent two complementary human inner ear model systems. In a new STEM CELLS review, Marta Roccio (University Hospital Zürich and the University of Zürich, Switzerland) discusses these approaches and their application to battle hearing loss.