Leading investigators within the group discovered a three-dimensional (3D) culture method for deriving mini inner ear organs, called inner ear organoids, which contain the sensory cells to the inner ear and function similarly to native inner ear organs.
Establishing a novel step-wise differentiation of inner ear sensory epithelia from pluripotent stem cells in 3D culture, the Hashino Lab continues to use inner ear organoids to address both basic and translational questions. These stem cell-derived inner ear sensory epithelia harbor a layer of tightly packed hair cells whose structural, biochemical and functional properties are indistinguishable from native sensory hair cells in the human inner ear, and are invaluable in modeling inner ear diseases and discovering drugs that can ameliorate inner ear diseases.
The Hashino Lab leverages expertise in CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing technology to generate inner ear/brain organoids harboring disease-associated mutations and also various reporter stem cell lines for prompt identification of specific cell types. Dr. Hashino and colleague Rick Nelson, MD, PhD, are modeling diseases of the ear in several ways including through CHARGE syndrome and Tmprss3-mediated hair cell degeneration.