Researchers have altered the genes of mice with genetic hearing loss to be able to preserve their hearing, according to an article in The Harvard Gazette. Utilizing a more “precise” version of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing system, scientists from Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital were able to turn off the defective TMC1 gene that causes hearing loss, leaving the healthy copy unaffected.
As the article points out, the new gene-editing system was able to identify a single incorrect DNA letter in the defective copy out of 3 billion mouse genome letters.
The mice used in the research—known as ‘Beethoven mice’ due to their deafness’ similarity to the composer’s progressive hearing loss—had their auditory brainstem response tested to determine if their hearing was restored. Two months after the gene therapy, the mice had better hearing than their untreated siblings with the same mutation.
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Source: The Harvard Gazette