ScienceDaily (July 25, 2012) — A new gene therapy approach can reverse hearing loss caused by a genetic defect in a mouse model of congenital deafness, according to a preclinical study published by Cell Press in the July 26 issue of the journal Neuron. The findings present a promising therapeutic avenue for potentially treating individuals who are born deaf.
"This is the first time that an inherited, genetic hearing loss has been successfully treated in laboratory mice, and as such represents an important milestone for treating genetic deafness in humans," says senior study author Lawrence Lustig of the University of California, San Francisco.
Hearing loss is one of the most common human sensory deficits, and it results from damage to hair cells in the inner ear. About half of the cases of congenital hearing loss are caused by genetic defects. However, the current treatment options -- hearing amplification devices and cochlear implants -- do not restore hearing to normal levels. Correcting the underlying genetic defects has the potential to fully restore hearing, but previous attempts to reverse hearing loss caused by genetic mutations have not been successful.
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