March 23 (UPI) -- A study from Johns Hopkins University has identified a new gene therapy that can restore hearing loss and reduce dizziness in animal studies.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and half of adults over 75 have hearing loss effecting more men than women.
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, more than 35 percent of adults in the United States age 40 and older have some degree of balance dysfunction.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders, or NIDCD, used gene therapy to restore balance and hearing to genetically modified mice that mimic Usher Syndrome, a genetic disorder causing partial or total hearing loss and dizziness from abnormalities in the inner ear, and vision loss that worsens over time.
The team administered gene therapy to the inner ears of the mice genetically modified to carry the gene for Usher Syndrome. The mice were deaf and had significant balance problems from birth, however, after gene therapy, the balance function was almost completely restored and the mice showed improvements in hearing.
"Inner ear gene therapy offers tremendous potential as a new way to help patients with hearing loss and dizziness," Dr. Wade Chien, a neurootologist and associate professor with the Johns Hopkins Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery team, said in a press release.
Researchers stressed that the results are preliminary and require more research in humans to demonstrate their efficacy.