A world-first gene therapy trial that is re-growing hearing nerves with cochlear implant surgery to make technology even more effective is forging ahead, with promising early results.
Key investigator and Medical Director of the NextSense Cochlear Implant Program Clinical Professor Catherine Birman says despite elective surgery delays due to COVID, the trial has resulted in some remarkable outcomes.
An analysis of the results will begin early in the new year. The Australian-led trial, which is being made possible by clients receiving services through NextSense, is still seeking participants for the control group, who would not undergo surgery, but could give a day or two of their time to provide comparative information.
The trial has brought together leaders in hearing loss and technology to share their skills and knowledge to deliver better outcomes for patients. It includes researchers and clinicians from NextSense, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, University of NSW, Macquarie University, the University of Sydney, University of Melbourne and Cochlear Pty Ltd.
Using UNSW-developed medical technology for directed gene delivery into the cochlea during cochlear implant surgery, University of NSW invented and Cochlear made a new medical device that delivers DNA coding nerve growth factors to the targeted cells. This is designed to stimulate regrowth of the cochlear nerve fibres towards the implanted device, making the cochlear technology even better, with potentially increased hearing range, crisper hearing and using ‘precision medicine’ to improve outcomes.
We are hoping that the trial will enable hearing outcomes to be even better and more reliable for those receiving cochlear implants in future.
*Patients’ health information may be used as part of the ongoing commitment to review outcomes of patients, to guide clinical decision making and to better inform patients of treatment options. Any published results will not contain any identifying patient information.
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