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Updates in Gene Therapy to Battle Hearing Loss

Saturday, February 10, 2018 8:45:12 AM Australia/Melbourne

Updates in Gene Therapy to Battle Hearing LossNew year, new research. At least, that’s the hope. The Hearlink team is thrilled to welcome you to another year of timely research updates, new and exciting studies, and success stories that will only continue to improve the quality of life for those impacted by hearing loss. If you’re familiar with the Hearlink site and team, you know that this is the core of our ethos – info sharing and driving conversations that maximize awareness around hearing loss. That’s why we’re excited to share some updates around gene therapy and the key role that it will play in this body of work.


Gene therapy will have an abundance of applications, and they don’t all involve hearing loss. In fact, we find it beneficial to focus on these other applications today. It may help blindness, it could very well help particular types of cancer, and the learnings keep growing. But gene therapy had a tough year in 2017. It was involved in dozens of failed experiments and tests. But if there is anything that the Hearlink team knows, and anything that experts in the audiology industry know, you can’t quit. And gene therapy is not going to quit.


For those unfamiliar with the concept, let’s do a high-level education. The idea is that we treat the human body just like a computer or another type of technology. When you find a bug, you normally do a reboot or troubleshoot, right? The same is true for your body when you’re working with gene therapy. Faulty letters within the human genome can be either edited or fully removed. They’re then replaced with healthy letters for the human genome.


2017 saw gene therapy 2.0. Let’s talk about where that will go this year.


First up, CAR-T. The premise is harvesting the patient’s immune cells, inject with extra genetic material and voila, they turn into cancer-hunters. The FDA has approved around which will help kids and young adults battle certain kinds of leukemia. Europe is leading this charge, and pushing products to market. CAR-T will be a game changer because it works for cancer patients where other therapies, like chemotherapy, do not.


CRISPR isn’t by definition gene therapy, because it’s injected directly into the nucleus. But, the result is the same, cutting out all faulty genes. This product will target blood disorders like beta thalassemia and sickle-cell disease. Approval from the FDA is high on the agenda for the coming months.


Finally, gene therapy may make huge strides for those impacted by loss of site. The price tag is high – about $850,000 in the US market, but the gene therapy called Luxturna was officially approved by the FDA right before the holiday season. Bonus points? If it doesn’t work within 30 months, many large companies are working on rebates for the customer, given the astronomical price tag.


Isn’t it interesting to learn that foundational elements of science are so cross-functional? The Hearlink team is excited to share more as this research continues.

Posted in Industry News By

Hearlink Admin