Gene therapy promises success in restoring hearing loss

A new synthetic gene therapy vector effectively penetrates both inner and outer hair cells of the cochlea in mice. Credit Charlie Askew and Jeffrey Holt

BBC – Deaf mice have been able to hear a tiny whisper after being given a “landmark” gene therapy by US scientists.

They say restoring near-normal hearing in the animals paves the way for similar treatments for people “in the near future”.

Studies, published in Nature Biotechnology, corrected errors that led to the sound-sensing hairs in the ear becoming defective.

The researchers used a synthetic virus to nip in and correct the defect.

“It’s unprecedented, this is the first time we’ve seen this level of hearing restoration,” said researcher Dr Jeffrey Holt, from Boston Children’s Hospital.

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