It seems like there is a new technological advancement written up in the Philadelphia Inquirer almost every day. Some are found in consumer products, such as refrigerators that can alert you when you’re low on milk or microwaves that can be controlled by your cellphone, while others focus on health care. New research out of Tel Aviv may have found a way for technology to cure hearing loss.
Mice Gene Therapy
Researchers from Tel Aviv University’s Medical School recently published a study focused on treating a gene mutation in mice. There are a number of gene mutations that can lead to hearing loss. One mutation on the SYNEA4 gene, which harms the hair cells inside the cochlea, is a rare genetic condition found in Iraqi Jews that can cause hearing loss.
The SYNEA4 gene mutation was first identified as a cause of hearing loss in 2013 by Prof. Karen Avraham and her team. The mutation can be present in patients with normal hearing. When two people with this mutation have a child together, that child has a 25% chance of developing high-frequency hearing loss.
Methodology & Results
The 2021 study titled “Neonatal AAV gene therapy rescues hearing in a mouse model of SYNE4 deafness” used genetically engineered mice with this SYNEA4 gene mutation. The researchers administered gene therapy to the baby mice born to two parents with the gene mutation by injecting them with healthy genes to replace the unhealthy SYNEA4 gene.
The mice were given hearing tests and their cells were examined. The researchers determined that the mice who received gene therapy no longer had the cells that caused hearing damage.
This type of gene therapy is different from the CRISPR technology many are familiar with, which works to edit the gene. Instead, researchers were able to insert a gene into the inner ear of the mice, essentially replacing the defective gene with a healthy one. By doing this right after the mouse was born, they were able to prevent damage to the inner ear.
While this research is only in the initial stages, it may pave the way for gene therapies that can be used on humans to cure hearing loss.
To learn more about the hearing loss treatments currently available or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, contact Pinnacle ENT Associates today.