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Gene hope for hearing treatment

Thursday April 24th, 2014

The cochlear implant was a revolution in the treatment of hearing loss - and now researchers say they can boost it with gene therapy.

The new technique has so far been tested on laboratory animals by Australian researchers.

They reported their findings in Science Translational Medicine last night.

The researchers used a technique called electro-gene delivery. It involved injection a DNA solution into cochlear implants and then giving the ear a few short electrical impulses.

This led to cells taking up the DNA they report.

According to the study, there was evidence of a "dramatic improvement" in hearing.

It was not clear how long the treatment would stay effective. The researchers say they want to start clinical trials involving humans.

Led by Dr Gary Housley, of the University of New South Wales, Sydney, the researchers write: "The results offer evidence that gene therapy could enrich hearing in people with cochlear implants."

Close-Field Electroporation Gene Delivery Using the Cochlear Implant Electrode Array Enhances the Bionic Ear. Science Translational Medicine 23 April 2014

Tags: Australia | Genetics | Hearing

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