Some types of hearing loss are genetic, which means people carry a gene or a group of genes that are responsible for the loss of hearing. So far, we know that over 100 genes are linked to some form of hearing loss. Some make us more predisposed to hearing loss due to ageing, noise, drugs or infections, while others determine that we are born deaf or develop severe hearing loss later in life.
Inner ear sensory hair cells play a vital role in our hearing, and genetic changes in these cells can prevent them from functioning properly, resulting in hearing loss.
Genetic therapies to hearing loss aim to correct the errors that exist in the genes and protect or restore the hearing of the people who carry them.
How could genetic therapies potentially benefit me in the future?
Genetic therapies will be able to correct any mistake on genes that cause hearing loss, therefore preventing the degeneration of our hearing. These therapies can also potentially be used to restore our hearing.
How can I find out more?
At this point treatments to correct genetic hearing loss are still being developed at a preclinical stage. Scientists are still testing them in a laboratory environment before testing them in people.