Gene therapy helps boy hear for the first time

Gene therapy enables boy to hear for first time

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Aissam Dam, a Moroccan boy who has a rare form of deafness and was born with profound hearing loss in both ears, has become the first person to receive a new gene therapy procedure. The gene therapy was to correct an abnormality in a single, very rare gene, and it has enabled Aissam to hear sounds for the first time in his life.

Scientists and doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, operated on 11-year-old Aissam in October last year to introduce a single dose of the gene therapy into his inner ear. Four months later his hearing in the treated ear had recovered to mild/moderate hearing loss. In fact, only days after surgery, Aissam could hear traffic noises.

The same team of doctors now has two further, younger children lined up for surgery. If the trial continues to produce positive results, it’s likely that scientists will focus on creating therapies to correct the other 150-plus genes implicated in congenital hearing loss.

Gene therapy for hearing loss is something scientists have been striving towards for over two decades. With this news, it finally sounds like it has arrived. 

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