As well as improving hearing for those with the ear implants, the technique holds the potential to treat an array of neurological and psychiatric disorders
The research team, from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia, recently published the details of their breakthrough method in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The researchers say it is well known that if neurotrophins – naturally occurring proteins important for neuron development, function and survival – are delivered to the cochlea of the ear, auditory nerve endings are able to regenerate.
However, carrying out such a technique has proven difficult for scientists. The team says that it has not been possible to localize delivery of neurotrophins to the cochlea safely using drug delivery or viral-based gene therapy.
With this in mind, they looked at whether cochlear implants could be used for gene therapy.READ MORE