February 20, 2007

GenVec, Inc, Gaithersburg, Md, has announced the publication of pre-clinical research demonstrating that delivery of the atonal gene (math1) can re-establish sensory cells and inner ear function.

The proof of concept study in mouse vestibular models, “Vestibular Hair Cell Regeneration and Restoration of Balance Function Induced by Math1 Gene Transfer,” authored by investigators from University of Kansas School of Medicine, University of Heidelberg, and GenVec, appears in the February issue of Otology & Neurotology. The researchers used GenVec’s proprietary adenovector technology to deliver the company’s patented math1 gene to inner ear cells in mice. In mice with damaged inner ear cells, treatment with AdMath1 regenerated inner ear hair cells and restored lost balance function within eight weeks.

 The vestibular system is a particularly important target for hair cell regeneration because once the specialized sensory cells of the inner ear are damaged, hearing and balance is lost. There are no effective treatments available for patients who have lost all vestibular function and hearing loss remains a major, unmet medical problem.

 Atonal therapy uses a protein that normally controls the generation of the sensory cells during development. This study demonstrates that the addition of math1 after injury significantly enhances functional vestibular hair cell recovery and may potentially aid recovery from a variety of balance disorders.

“There is a compelling need to improve treatment of both balance and hearing disorders, and we believe this therapeutic approach has significant potential,” stated Doug Brough, PhD, GenVec’s senior director, vector sciences. “The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders estimates that approximately 28 million Americans suffer from some form of hearing loss, and balance problems affect about 9 percent of the population aged 65 years or older. The cost of medical care for patients with balance disorders has been estimated to exceed $1 billion,” Dr. Brough said. “These results exemplify the broad applicability of our proprietary adenovector technology.”

For more information about GenVec visit www.genvec.com.