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Hearing Repaired: Gene therapy restores guinea pigs' hearing

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11:15am, February 16, 2005

By flipping on a gene that's normally active only during embryonic development, researchers have restored hearing to a group of profoundly deaf guinea pigs. The finding may lead to treatments for millions of people with acquired hearing loss, the team says.

Like people, guinea pigs use auditory hair cells, found deep inside the inner ear, to detect sounds. When sound waves reach them, the cells' hairlike projections sway with the vibrations and transmit electrical signals to the brain's auditory center.

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