A new study shows there is still hope for the deaf to hear againIf the findings of a study conducted by Australian researchers are something to go by, it is evident that gene therapy could make people having cochlear implants able to hear better and enable them to hear and appreciate music when in a noisy environment. The experiment was essentially carried out with some deaf guinea pigs. Gary Horsley, the study author noted that by inserting genes around the area of cochlear implants after which an electric charge was passed via the implant, this led to the stimulation of cochlear cells to grow.

How the simple procedure is undertaken

Housely said that their study had finally succeeded in finding a new way of delivering a gene to cochlear by just using a cochlear implant device and the gene actually acts as the nerve growth factor that enhances repairing of cochlear nerve.  A surgical procedure is undertaken to implant the cochlear in the cochlea part of the inner ear. A line of some small electrodes found within cochlear are used for stimulating the nerve fibers of cochlear at various positions and this consequently enhances different frequencies or sounds.

For a person with no hearing problems, the sensory cells that are known as hair cells usually encode the sound vibrations and this in turn leads to stimulation of cochlear nerve fibers. When one is unable to hear, this also leads to the loss of the hair cells as well and when they are not present, the nerve fibers of the cochlear simply die and are retracted into the bone area within the cochlea core. Such a scenario can make implanting the cochlear quite a difficult job since there is high amount of the electrical current required for stimulating the nerves.

How gene therapy could finally help those with hearing problems

The gene therapy that usually makes the cells much closer to the electrode usually produce a nerve growth factor that makes the nerve fibers found here to grow out of the cells. What this implies is that less current will be required so that there can be stimulation of more selective nerve fibers.  The researcher hope that in the future, those having cochlear implants can actually get the gene therapy when receiving their implant together with the computer system- in fact it is involved in cochlear implant for conversion of sound into electrical pulses on the electrodes. This should lead to a much better sound perception being provided.

However, scientists are also quite to note that research done with animals usually doesn’t yield similar results always in humans. The researchers were, however, quick to question that this was just preliminary research and future clinical trials are going to show if there is a possibility of improving the hearing even though there is a very high likelihood that this will indeed be achieved.