Scientists restore hearing to children born with congenital deafness through genetic engineering

Scientists restore hearing to children born with congenital deafness through genetic engineering

Five preschoolers who were born with congenital deafness have been able to hear and utter their first words with the help of genetic engineering. BBC writes about it .

According to the publication, scientists from Harvard Medical School and Fudan University (China) have developed a revolutionary method of curing congenital deafness. Clinical trials have already been conducted, the results of which have been published in the journal Science Advances.

Congenital deafness can be caused by up to 1500 different mutations, but in this case we are talking about the genetic defect that damages the nerve connection between the inner ear and the brain - mutation DFNB9. As a result, the body loses the ability to produce the protein necessary to transmit nerve impulses from auditory receptors to the brain. Until now, such children were helped only with prosthetics - an implant was implanted in their head, although this did not completely solve the problem. The "artificial ear" did not allow the children to catch the tone difference and intonation. For example, they had difficulty perceiving music.

Now, scientists have inserted a healthy copy of the damaged gene into the genome of a safe virus and injected it into the inner ear of patients. They explain that as soon as the virus enters the cell, it begins to "repair" the damaged part of the DNA and replaces the "defective" copy of the gene with a healthy one, which begins to reproduce normally with each cell division. Accordingly, the production of the necessary protein and the transmission of nerve signals generated in the ear to the brain begin.

Specialists note that children began to respond to sounds a few months after the operation. It should be noted that scientists performed 6 such operations, although in one case the treatment was unsuccessful. Specialists are considering several versions of this and do not rule out that the repeated procedure may be successful even in the case of the sixth patient.

The authors of the method claim that their method may be approved in the USA in the coming years.

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