Gene Therapy to Cure Prelingual Deafness
Gene therapy may be the solution to prelingual deafness. This therapy would displace the use of cochlear implants. In fact, the results in some animal studies have been positive.
Have you heard about gene therapy? What about prelingual deafness? You must understand these two concepts in order to understand this new line of treatment to try to cure this disease. So let’s find out what they are.
Gene therapy is a new field of medicine
Treatments based on the human genome are increasingly gaining popularity in the cure of certain diseases, such as cancer. This therapy consists of the introduction of genes to correct any alterations in the genome that might produce diseases.
A gene is a portion of DNA that contains the information necessary to synthesize a specific protein in the body. These portions of DNA can undergo changes, that is, mutations, and encode defective proteins. The kind that results in the appearance of diseases. Thus, gene therapy seeks to correct these defects.
However, there are still many outstanding questions even though human gene therapy tests have advanced rapidly. For example, scientists wonder if therapeutic genes themselves can cause disease. They also wonder about the ethical limits.
What’s prelingual deafness?
This is when hearing loss (total or partial), that is, the inability to hear, is present at birth. It’s congenital and could be hereditary. Often, this kind of hearing impairment is so severe that the child is unable to process linguistic information through the ear, with or without amplification.
80% of childhood deafness is already present at birth. Interestingly, most deaf children are born to families whose hearing is normal.
You may also be interested in reading: Tips and Natural Plants to Prevent Deafness
Current treatments for prelingual deafness
Currently, babies with this type of deafness need to use hearing aids. But these aren’t a good solution in all cases, and so some people require surgery. These devices transform electrical waves into sound waves when you place them in your ear. Thanks to a circular and adjustable head strap, people can easily attach them to the ears to improve sound reception.
People should start wearing a hearing aid for amplification as soon as possible after a diagnosis. When the above methods don’t improve things, then the person might require a cochlear implant.
Gene therapy and prelingual deafness
There are many advances in medicine and researchers wonder if it would be possible to apply gene treatments to treat deafness from a completely different perspective. That is, without the need for cochlear implants or hearing aids. However, these techniques are still under study in animals.
There are published results of two investigations in which this type of gene therapy has been applied. Researchers seem to have achieved interesting results for the treatment of hearing problems.
Now they’re directing both investigations regarding hearing diseases of exclusively genetic origin. This alteration currently affects more than 125 million people in the world.
The hard part of this treatment is due to the fact they use viruses to introduce healthy genes into the organisms. So, these microorganisms may not be able to get into the cells of the ear.
One of the published articles explains how a gene that produces a fluorescent protein has been introduced into the cells of a mouse’s ear, using a synthetic variant of a virus. Another positive result is that there have been no side effects to this type of treatment.
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