Groundbreaking surgery restores toddler’s hearing

Mother reading to her deaf toddler

Groundbreaking surgery restores toddler’s hearing

After a 16-minute surgical procedure, 18-month-old Opal Sandy now has near-normal hearing. The toddler, from Oxfordshire, had her hearing restored as part of a pioneering gene therapy trial.

Opal was born with auditory neuropathy, which disrupts nerve impulses between the inner ear and the brain, thought to be the cause of a faulty gene.

During the surgery at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge, Opal received an infusion containing a working copy of the gene, and can now hear almost perfectly.

The outcome follows decades of work to reach a solution that worked in humans, and the therapy was developed by biotech firm, Regeneron.

The trial will run in three parts, with three deaf children, including Opal, receiving a low dose of gene therapy in one ear. (Since Opal’s surgery, another child has received the gene therapy and has experienced positive results.) Another three children will get a high dose on one side. If that is shown to be safe, more children will receive a dose in both ears at the same time. Some 18 children will be recruited to the trial from across the UK and worldwide, and all will be followed up for five years.

You can read more about this amazing work here:

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