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Gene therapy research offers hearing hope

Post on 17th May 2017

It’s exciting to hear about a new gene therapy technique which restored hearing in profoundly deaf mice as it offers hope of a cure for hereditary hearing loss in people.

In a research study, healthy DNA was carried into the ears of deaf mice using a harmless virus and made changes which enabled them to pick up noise equivalent to a whisper. The rodents had a condition similar to hereditary human deafness.

Scientists believe it could be three or more years before the technique can be used on patients, but it is good to know that progress is being made.

The results of the study by scientists from Harvard Medical School in collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital in the USA were published in ‘Nature Biotechnology’.

The new gene therapy, delivered by injection, was able to reach a greater number of sensory cells in the ear than previous viruses and is seen as a significant breakthrough.

It could lead to treatments for genetic diseases of the inner ear which affect an estimated 125 million people around the world.

For those of us born with healthy hearing it is easy to take it for granted but we should do all we can to look after this vital sense.

If you have noticed deterioration in your hearing, or have any concerns, you can seek help and advice at your local Scrivens branch.