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Study: Gene therapy used to restore function of inner ear hair cells

Researchers say they have successfully restored the functionality of damaged inner ear hair cells, which could pave the way for treating newborn babies with congenital hearing loss.

“Researchers used a modified, non-pathogenic adeno-associated virus (Anc80L65), which is introduced into the ear by way of a “Trojan Horse” to deliver genes to restore the functionality of the damaged hair cells,” according to Science Daily.

By using the same virus that has been used for restoring cells in the liver and retina, scientists used the gene therapy to treat a mouse for Usher syndrome –  the most common cause of deafblindness in the world.

“What was surprising was that, in addition to the inner hair cells that are responsible for signal transduction, it was also possible to treat the 90% of outer hair cells, which perform an important amplification function in the inner ear and have hitherto been virtually inaccessible for gene therapy,” according to the report.

The study was carried out by researchers at the Medical School in Harvard, Boston, Lukas Landegger of MedUni Vienna’s Department of Ear, Nose and Throat, and is published in the journal Nature Biotechnology

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