The Koehler Lab, led by Karl Koehler, PhD, is making significant advances in regenerative medicine by understanding how to build complex tissues of the head and neck in a culture dish using stem cells. While stem cells can become many different types of cells, researchers determined how to specifically differentiate stem cells into two major cell populations important for craniofacial development: the ectoderm and the neural crest.
The lab discovered that under controlled culture conditions, stem cells self-organize into a diverse array of cranial cell types and organs such as inner ear sensory organs, cranial neurons, cartilage, skin, and fat. The goal of this work is to clearly define the mechanisms underlying this tissue development process in order to ultimately provide a useful tool for studying tissue development, modeling diseases, and improving regenerative therapies.
The Koehler Lab has two primary areas of focus: facial skin reconstruction and auditory neuron regeneration.
Facial Skin Reconstruction
Auditory Neuron Regeneration
The Koehler Lab recently described a method for deriving inner ear organoids from mouse PSCs in a 3D stem cell culture system. Mimicking normal development, the organoids started as otic vesicles and progressively formed neurons and sensory epithelia containing hair cells. Additional research builds onto preliminary studies of a human organoid culture system to investigate the mechanisms and transcriptional regulators governing auditory circuit formation.