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Genetics Research International
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 748698, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/748698
Review Article

Filling the Silent Void: Genetic Therapies for Hearing Impairment

Stem Cell and Developmental Biology, Genome Institute of Singapore, 60 Biopolis Street, Singapore 138672

Received 12 April 2012; Revised 27 September 2012; Accepted 4 November 2012

Academic Editor: Tomaso Patarnello

Copyright © 2012 Joel Sng and Thomas Lufkin. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The inner ear cytoarchitecture forms one of the most intricate and delicate organs in the human body and is vulnerable to the effects of genetic disorders, aging, and environmental damage. Owing to the inability of the mammalian cochlea to regenerate sensory hair cells, the loss of hair cells is a leading cause of deafness in humans. Millions of individuals worldwide are affected by the emotionally and financially devastating effects of hearing impairment (HI). This paper provides a brief introduction into the key role of genes regulating inner ear development and function. Potential future therapies that leverage on an improved understanding of these molecular pathways are also described in detail.