"cure for deafness in sight"

Richard Bishop richard at ovation.wgtn.planet.co.nz
Wed Mar 12 09:53:21 EST 1997


Any comments on the following given me by one of my patients 
who found the following, rather curiously headed, 
news-release:

CURE FOR DEAFNESS IN SIGHT
By Rada Rouse, AAP National Medical Correspondent
SYDNEY, March 5 AAP - Scientists have discovered they may be 
able to cure deafness by rejuvenating  damaged hair cells of 
the inner ear with the aid of genetically-engineered viruses.
	It may also be possible to replenish cells which have 
died.
	Ground-breaking research at the Albert Einstein 
College of Medicine in New York indicates that "slave" viruses 
can be used to regrow cells once thought irreplaceable.
	Pioneering work by Dr Thomas Van Der Water in creating 
a laboratory culture system gave scientists a tool to study 
the inner ear outside teh body, the XVI World Congress on 
Otorhinolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery was told.
	Dr Robert Ruben, paediatric ear, nose and throat 
doctor, said since then researchers had succeeded in 
destroying and rebulding hair cells in rats and protecting the 
hearing of guines pigs.
	Human trials were set to start in about 18 months.
	"We believe most forms of deafness will eventually be 
able to be treated," he said.
	"This includes genetic damage, ageing, damage from 
antibiotics and infection, and from sound trauma."
	The ability to protect and replenish these cells was a 
breakthrough for the 21st century, he said.
	"From a public health point of view, communication 
disorders are a major challenge because people need those 
skills more and more in order to make a living," he said.
	The new technique involves neutering a virus so it 
cannot replicate, and altering the DNA so it makes growth 
factors which protect the inner ear.
	"It's slavery - you get the virus to work for you to 
make the molecular substance you want to be made." Dr Ruben 
said.
	The virus can be harnessed to introduce material to 
the inner ear including "scavengers" to remove noxious waste 
and/or produce agents which switch on machinery in individiual 
cells to make them grow.
--
Richard Bishop
Audiologist
Wellington
New Zealand



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