Scientists from Israel have presented a new method that will help deaf and hard of hearing people. It will potentially be useful to half a billion people around the world.
Researchers from Tel Aviv University have presented an innovative treatment for deafness that relies on delivering genetic material to the cells of the inner ear. The genetic material replaces the defect and allows the cells to continue to function normally.
Scientists managed to prevent the gradual deterioration of hearing in mice that had the mutation. They argue that the new therapy could lead to a breakthrough in the treatment of children born with various mutations that ultimately cause deafness.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about half a billion people worldwide have hearing problems. Researchers expect this figure to double in the coming decades. Moreover, every two hundredth child is born with a hearing impairment, and every thousandth is deaf. In about half of these cases, deafness is caused by a genetic mutation.
“In this study, we focused on genetic deafness caused by a mutation in the SYNE4 gene, a rare disorder that our laboratory found in two Israeli families. The mutation causes mislocalization of cell nuclei in the hair cells inside the cochlea, which serve as receptors for sound waves and are essential for hearing. This defect leads to degeneration and eventually death of the hair cells. Our method will help to cope with it, ”the scientists noted.