For some decades the hunt has been on for an effective medical intervention than can slow or even reverse hearing loss. And since hearing loss has been proven as a key risk factor in the development of dementia that hunt has intensified.
Thanks to researchers at King’s College, London we’re one step closer to that hearing holy grail. That’s because these scientists have successfully restored hearing in deaf mice using a genetic approach.
The mice had a non-functioning Spns2 gene – a gene that’s required for normal hearing function. They were given a specialist enzyme at different stages of their lives to activate the gene. The mice’s hearing showed a significant improvement, particularly in the low and mid frequency ranges and the results were most marked in the younger mice – highlighting the potential of early intervention.
Showing that one type of inner ear dysfunction can be reversed will hopefully encourage research into methods like gene therapy or drugs to reactivate hearing in humans.
Dr Elisa Martelletti, one of the scientists involved in the study, says, “Seeing the once-deaf mice respond to sounds after treatment was thrilling. It was a pivotal moment, demonstrating the tangible potential to reverse hearing loss caused by defective genes.”