Scientists Used Gene Therapy To Cure Deafness In Mice

Viswamitra Jayavant - Feb 23, 2019

Scientists Used Gene Therapy To Cure Deafness In Mice

A study published on the journal PNAS revealed that researchers had cured genetic deafness in mice through gene therapy. The therapy has potential for human treatments, as well.

When a person is said to have been deaf since birth. Most likely, it’s because of a fault in their genetic make-up. Medical technologies have evolved enough that doctors can aid their sense of hearing through cochlear implants. But now researchers are looking at an option to ‘cure’ genetic deafness at its basic form through gene-based treatments.

A study published in the journal PNAS confirmed that deaf mice treated with a newly-developed gene therapy had ‘rediscovered’ its hearing. These mice’s ability to hear is similar to that of healthy mice. The result of this paper is quite an optimistic news for those suffering from this previously untreatable condition.

DFNB9 Deafness

The mice in question were suffering from DFNB9 deafness. It is a type of gene-related deafness condition that affects about 2-8% of human deafness. DFNB9 deafness occurs when a certain protein called Otoferlin isn't able to do its job which is transmitting the audio information collected by the inner ear.

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Researchers attempted to fix this condition by modifying the deaf mice’s genomes with biologically engineered viruses. The end result was that the mice were able to hear with acuity rivaling that of its healthy fellows.

Worth Waiting For

Even though DFNB9 deafness is present on both mice and humans. The gene therapy used is still in too early a stage to determine whether it could be used as a potential candidate for treating human patients. After all, it’s typically a very long road between animal experimentations and clinical trials.

There’s a different reason to take this treatment with a grain of salt. The published article also stated that a researcher from the University of Florida will profit from this technology if it managed to take off. So it’s in everyone’s best interest that we wait to see how this treatment will fare in future studies.


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