Aug 29

Deaf people could one day have their hearing restored through a groundbreaking gene therapy technique, a new study suggests.

The transfer of a specific gene is shown today by a milestone experiment to trigger the growth of new hair cells in the inner ear – the usually irreplaceable sensory cells that pick up sound vibrations and that are lost as a result of ageing, disease, certain drugs, and by excessive exposure to loud sound.

The approach, which one day could help millions of people worldwide with deafness and inner-ear disease, is made possible by a technique that is demonstrated in the journal Nature by an American team lead by Dr John Brigande of the Oregon Hearing Research Centre, Portland, who himself is profoundly hard of hearing.

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