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Hearing restoration with gene therapy

Invention Number: 
A gene therapy platform to restore hearing

Hearing loss affects about 1.1 billion people * to some degree and it causes disability in over 360 million people!

The Invention

This invention is a novel gene therapy and delivery platform to permanently restore functionality of key cells implicated in the neuro sensory path of the hearing function.  

Ultimately this invention will improve and restore people’s hearing. 

Key Benefits 

  • Localised gene therapy delivery
  • Better controlled transfection of cells
  • Lower immunological reaction to the virus construct
  • Long acting therapeutic effect
  • Significantly improve hearing in patients already wearing hearing aids

Potential Applications  

  • Gene therapy delivery platform (controller & probe)
  • Gene therapy for localised tissue
  • This technology also has significant applications in central nervous system disorders

The Opportunity

UNSW is seeking a partner to license this technology and/or to work with the researchers to further develop this technology. The technology is protected by international patent application PCT/AU2016/050546

Researcher Details

Professor Gary David Housley 


Bionic ear delivers DNA to regrow auditory nerve cells

Bionics-based gene delivery in the cochlea - a breakthrough from the Translational Neuroscience Facility to enhance to cochlear implant; Science Translational Medicine publication (Pinyon et al, 2014)

Key Publications and Technical Data

Close-field ectroporation gene delivery using the cochlear implant electrode array enhances the bionic ear 

...."The focusing of electric fields by particular cochlear implant electrode configurations led to surprisingly efficient gene delivery to adjacent mesenchymal cells. The resulting BDNF expression stimulated regeneration of spiral ganglion neurites, which had atrophied 2 weeks after ototoxic treatment, in a bilateral sensorineural deafness model. In this model, delivery of a control GFP-only vector failed to restore neuron structure, with atrophied neurons indistinguishable from unimplanted cochleae. With BDNF therapy, the regenerated spiral ganglion neurites extended close to the cochlear implant electrodes, with localized ectopic branching".  Read more >

Mapping of bionic array electric field focusing in plasmid DNA-based gene electrotransfer.

..."Here, we establish the properties of array-based electroporation affecting targeted gene delivery. The refinement of gene delivery parameters was validated in vivo in the guinea pig cochlea. These findings have significant clinical ramifications, where spatiotemporal control of gene expression can be predicted by manipulation of the electric field via current steering at a cellular level".   Read more >