Ear implant crossed with gene therapy for auditory repair (AU)

A hopeful Pointer to the Future for those with hearing loss–or, in fact, with nerve damage of other types–is the research out of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) on their developing a DNA-based genetic treatment, delivered by a cochlear implant, to restore hearing in deafened guinea pigs. The recombinant DNA enters the cochlear cells to produce neurotrophins, proteins that cause auditory nerve endings to regenerate, improving pitch perception and tonal range. Unfortunately the effect lasted only a few months, so that further work is required before the treatment even nears human trials. Study co-author Gary Housley also cited other implant-extending usages, such as deep brain stimulation used in Parkinson’s disease treatment and retinal implants. Published this month in Science Translational Medicine (abstract only, subscription required for full access.) The Verge, Engadget (short UNSW video included)

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