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On Hair Cells and Hearing

In a paper published online in advance in PLoS Biology this week, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis show that Fgf20-knockout mice show hearing loss, and suggest that "FGF20 may also be a deafness-associated gene in humans." Lead author Sung-Ho Huh said in a statement that "this is the first evidence that inner and outer hair cells develop independently of one another," adding that "this is important because most age-related and noise-induced hearing loss is due to the loss of outer hair cells." WashU's David Ornitz adds that "in mice, the precursor cells that can become outer hair cells must be exposed to the FGF20 protein at an early stage. After embryonic day 14, it doesn’t matter if they see the protein. It's too late for them to become outer hair cells." Ornitz also says that a team at Baylor College of Medicine is sequencing the DFNB71 region of the genome in search of FGF20 mutations that may play a role in human deafness.

The Scan

Two J&J Doses

Johnson & Johnson says two doses of its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine provides increased protection against symptomatic COVID-19, CNN reports.

Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Response in Kids

The Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in a lower-dose format appears to generate an immune response among children, according to the Washington Post.

Chicken Changes to Prevent Disease

The Guardian writes that researchers are looking at gene editing chickens to help prevent future pandemics.

PNAS Papers on Siberian Dog Ancestry, Insect Reproduction, Hippocampal Neurogenesis

In PNAS this week: ancestry and admixture among Siberian dogs, hormone role in fruit fly reproduction, and more.