Novel genetic therapy gives hearing hope

Scientists from Tel Aviv University have recently completed a study that offers hope to sufferers of deafness.Hearing

Hearing loss is a disability that affects up to 500 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation. Approximately half of deafness cases, are caused by a genetic mutation.

The study looked specifically at genetic deafness, particularly at the gene SYNE4 which causes a rare form of deafness. Scientists found a mutation of this gene which affects the hair cells within the cochlea of the inner ear, which are crucial for the ability to hear. As the hair cells degrade and eventually die, the ability to hear is reduced and then extinguished.

To address this genetic mutation, the scientists developed a treatment for mice with similar hearing loss. A benign virus was used to transport genetic material to the inner ear, where it replaced the defective hair cells. With full function returned to the hair cells, normal hearing was restored in the mice.

This successful trial demonstrated the power of genetic therapies in treating deafness.

As there are around 100 different genes that contribute to hereditary deafness, scientists are now looking at ways to apply the learnings from this study to other genetic defects.

Uncover the findings of the report at