Gene Therapy May Cure Deafness

Dr. John Brigande of the Oregon Hearing Research Center in Portland and colleagues succeeded in regrowing hair cells in the inner ear through gene therapy. Their technique may one day cure deafness from aging, disease and listening to overly loud music:

Named for the hair-like projections on their surfaces, hair cells form a ribbon of vibration sensors along the length of the cochlea, the organ of the inner ear that detects sound.

Receiving vibrations through the eardrum and bones of the middle ear, hair cells convert them to electrical signals carried to the brain.

People, like all mammals, are not able to regenerate hair cells when they are damaged or lost. Dr Brigande and colleagues show in Nature that by implanting a gene that regulates hair cell growth, Atoh1, into the mouse inner ear while the mouse is still in the womb, new hair cells are made.

Many Deaf people born without hearing, however, may not want their deafness cured:

He said that some deaf people will reject the offer of gene therapy. "If a person is born without hearing, they are "Deaf" and that is a unique culture into itself. Many Deaf individuals highly value their deafness and do not wish to be hearing.


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While I empathize with your struggle with the deaf people from your youth, but haven’t it ever occurred to you that it might be because of your lack of understanding of their culture, way of life, even their language. How could you even begin to criticize them if you cannot even sign their language at all? What is the root of their attitude towards people like you? I have took deaf studies, deaf history courses and much more. Much of their attitude towards you are because of the hostility that was presented to them by people similar to you in the past.

Please make an attempt to quit being ignorant. Why would deaf people want to stay being deaf? Haven’t it occurred to you that there might be awesome reasons they want to stay deaf? It’s an insult to their intelligence and to yourself if you decide what’s best for them. Don’t be an audist.

It’s the same thing in every city you have been to? Are you actually saying the four million deaf people in America’s exactly like that? It’s as ignorant as saying every black people went to prison at least once. I have visited twenty-two residential schools for the deaf in America, how many have you visited? Have you ever been to Gallaudet? Ever take a class there? Have you even seen any deaf documentaries? Read books by deaf people? Works by Bahan, Padden, Humphries, Swiller, Ladd, Lane, Kelly, Laird, and more? Have you ever gone to any deaf events? Deaf Expo? NAD Conference? Did you even try to understand the intent and purpose of the recent protests at Gallaudet? Do you even understand anything I am talking about? Please tell me you can at least spell the alphabet in ASL.

I think I know why you were rejected in your youth. It’s not the deaf people’s fault, it’s just you.

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I'm deaf in one ear and hard of hearing in the other. Not to sound like a stupid troll going on a forum post rant here, but Deaf "with a capital D" people can just kiss my ass.

When I was younger, there was an attempt to switch me over from regular school classes into a combined deaf/special education type class with deaf schooling in the summer. Deaf kids, even that young, were extremely hostile towards anyone who had ANY hearing whatsoever... Including the teachers who bent over backwards to be able to communicate with them by only the methods they would allow people to talk to them.

I had never known such a group of angry, petty, foolish and short sighted people in my life. (And I've lived in many different parts of the country) If you had a hearing aide, often the completely deaf kids would shun you if you were seen to be trying to talk. Even then, if you signed, or in my case... didn't sign, the attitudes would flip on a whim. I frequently encounter groups of Deaf people in bars (and this has been true for every city I've been to)... Most often they stay to themselves, don't communicate with other people, become hostile towards those who try to be friendly and throw fits when someone doesn't understand them. Throwing fits to the point to where all they do is angrily sign more and frightening people around them. Don't you even DARE to suggest they write down a drink order.

As a result of my one year that people tried to "help" me with deaf classes, I refused to be involved any further and insisted that I be put back into regular school classes. While I did often have trouble following the curriculum due to my hearing, I still managed it.

Deaf people who see me, and on the rare occasions they even do try to talk to me, respond very badly to my saying "I don't know how to sign." Instant turning of the back and subsequent snubbing.

It's not a culture. You have a handicap. Do what other people do in that case, acknowledge that your handicap may put you at a disadvantage and find ways to make it work... DON'T segregate yourself and limit your interactions on the basis of a birth defect! Unless, of course, you absolutely can't help it and even then, people with handicaps generally are very receptive to those who don't try to treat them special. Treat them like any other person. Don't call attention to it. It's appreciated.

Deaf people generally behave as if society should bend over for them and become hostile to those who don't automatically know what to do for them.

Not to broadly paint a group with one brush, I've had other friends with various levels of hearing issues... whether impairment or total deafness. Most understand and accept that's how life is for them and don't hold it against others... but the "Deaf Community" as an organization behaves otherwise.

The worst example I've ever encountered personally was a married Deaf couple who debated whether or not they would abort a child if they knew it was going to be born without deafness. *sighs*
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Yeah, it sounds (sorry) weird, but a lot of Deaf-with-a-capital-D people are very against any attempts to 'fix' them. It's counter-intuitive to those of us who can hear, but it's extremely real.
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