Gene therapy may restore hearing
There is good news for deaf people in the world. Deafness is a serious problem which people develop over the period of time with increasing age, partly due to the loss of hair cells in the cochlea. Prolonged exposure to loud noise is another culprit, damaging the hair cells. Now a team of scientist have discovered new genes which can restore hearing. Gene therapy uses a harmless virus to insert copies of the key gene into cells which then replicate.
Gene therapy has the potential to restore hearing in mice, offering hope for humans too, US scientists suggest.
An Oregon team discovered gene transfer produced functioning hair cells that are essential for the inner ear to interpret sounds, Nature reports.
In people with normal hearing, cochlear hair cells convert sound into electrical signals, which are ultimately transmitted to the brain.
Once the cells are lost or damaged, they cannot be replaced naturally.