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Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene therapy delivered to the inner ear using cochlear implants

A study in guinea pigs suggests delivering gene therapy to the inner ear using cochlear implants could improve the ability of the implants to aid hearing. In a guinea pig model of deafness, an electronic cochlear implant that delivered plasmid cDNA encoding human BDNF by electroporation increased neurite outgrowth, neuron density and hearing compared with implants that delivered a plasmid cDNA control. Next steps include optimizing the duration of gene therapy delivery and testing other neurotrophic factors delivered by this method (see Zapping hearing loss, page 8).

SciBX 7(18); doi:10.1038/scibx.2014.541
Published online May 8, 2014

Patent pending; available for licensing

Pinyon, J.L. et al. Sci. Transl. Med.; published online April 23, 2014;
Contact: Gary D. Housley, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia