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Gene Therapy Restores Hearing in Mice

cure for hearing loss


There are many causes of hearing loss—and plenty of scientists researching cures or prevention.

Recently, the HLM Blog covered some new progress in the fight against noise-induced hearing loss, and also toward preventing some hearing loss caused by antibiotics. This month, science made another big leap forward, this time in the ongoing work to cure genetic hearing loss through gene therapy.

Mutations in the TMC1 gene are responsible for 4 to 8 percent of genetic hearing loss. For humans, different types of mutations in this gene result in deafness by age 2 and also in gradual hearing loss, starting around age 10 or 15.

But what if we could replace the faulty gene with a healthy one? That was the thinking of scientists at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. In a study published earlier this month, scientists created a healthy version of a TMC1 gene. Using a virus to package and deliver the gene, they injected it into the inner ears of mice who had the genetic mutation…and restored their hearing.

Much more research is required to make this a viable solution for restoring human hearing, but researchers are clearly on the right track. Read more about the study and let us know what you think in the comments.