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Hearing Blog

Hearing with Gene Therapy

By Julie Hubik November 15, 2017

Thanks to advancements in modern scientific approaches, a recent breakthrough was found in the journal of Scientific Translational Medicine. This new discovery has found that through the use of gene therapy, the nerves within the auditory system can be regenerated. An implant placed in the cochlea was utilized to create electrical impulses that generated gene therapy.

Speech can be discerned through the use of cochlear implants, although the sound range is limited. The director of the Translational Neuroscience Facility at UNSW Medicine, professor Housley reported that this new breakthrough may someday allow people with cochlear implants to restore their hearing and enable them to enjoy a wider range of sound to maximize their hearing experience.

The procedure of using gene therapy in cochlear implants is relatively simple and takes only a few minutes to conduct. It requires a surgeon to install a bionic instrument that injects DNA solution into the user’s cochlea. This DNA is then transferred via electrical impulses that are created by the bionic cochlear implant.

This study was one of its kind since no other study had ever attempted to use gene therapy through cochlear implants before. The use of bionics within the ear has been found to be an efficient method of dealing with the delicate process of stimulating brain tissue to restore hearing.

The use of gene therapy is not only limited to effectively treating hearing disorders, but has also been found to be effective in alleviating certain neurological disorders as well. Psychiatric conditions like Parkinson’s disease or Clinical Depression may also be effectively treated using the same technique. This is because the nerve endings within the auditory system can be regenerated if neurotrophins are provided to the inner ear, which is the cochlea’s auditory section. Neurotrophins are a family of proteins that occur naturally and are essential for the survival as well as the operation and growth of neurons. Cochlear implants provide a vehicle that can effectively and securely transmit gene therapy to the sensitive and intricate portions of the brain.

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