UK child's hearing is restored using gene therapy for first time

May 9, 2024  15:26

A UK toddler’s hearing was restored using gene therapy for the first time in the. The Guardian reported about this breakthrough in deafness treatment.

Opal Sandy, 1.5, was born unable to hear anything due to auditory neuropathy, a condition that disrupts nerve impulses travelling from the inner ear to the brain and can be caused by a faulty gene.

But after receiving an infusion containing a working copy of the gene during groundbreaking surgery that took just 16 minutes, the little girl listens, happily plays a toy drum, and hits the table with a spoon. Her parents called the result "bonkers."

Professor Manohar Bance, the chief investigator for the trial, said the initial results were “better than I hoped or expected” and could cure patients with this type of deafness.

Opal received a low dose of gene therapy and only in one ear. A different set of three children will get a high dose on one side. Then, if that is shown to be safe, more children will receive a dose in both ears at the same time. In total, 18 children worldwide will be recruited to the trial.

Research has been done for decades, Bance noted. The condition of these children will be monitored for five years after the surgery.

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