AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Gerbils Can You Hear Me?

80 to 90 percent of people suffer from inherited deafness. In a study, scientists have reversed deafness in gerbils. This is a huge step in gene therapy research this month making the possibility of using gene therapy as a cure for deftness one step closer. Genetic therapy is the use of genetic material such as DNA to manipulate a cell and is generally used to treat inherited diseases; in this case scientists used human embryonic stem cells. The gerbils in the study were born deaf. This type of deafness is a birth defect caused by damage to hair cells in the inner ear. These inner ear hair along with auditory neurons which translate sound vibrations from the inner-ear cells to electrical signals are how you can hear. Scientists specifically worked on gerbils whose deafness was caused by a mutation in a gene coding for a protein called vesicular glumamate transporter-3. Even minor alterations to a protein’s primary structure ,such as the movement of a double bond, will cause major defects in the tertiary structure and the function of the protein. The mutated protein in this study vesicular glutamate transporter-3 controls the consumption of glutamate (neurotransmitter) into synaptic vesicles, which join two nerve cells, of the neural cells. This is clearly groundbreaking news this month and has proved the various use of stem cells. How do you feel about the use of embryonic stem cell research? Feel free to comment!!



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  1. ilikebioha

    I agree with troybolton. I think in order for stem cell therapy to be legalized, more research is necessary for more persuasive of arguments. As I was googling arguments against stem cell research i found countless contradictory arguments. One in particular is the argument between if embryonic are superior to adult stem cells. Adult stem cells can be obtained through umbilical cords and placentas, and there would be no need to destroy an embryo. Also I find one aspect of the pro-life argument(mentioned in the fox news link) against the research interesting. I understand if you are pro-life, but if the embryo is already being aborted, it might as well be put to good use for such as curing deceases rather then nothing at all.,2933,31748,00.html

  2. inewitt

    Good article. Now scientists just need to find a way to reverse deafness in humans so I can listen to my ipod on full blast without worry. After all the number of deaf people is rising, somewhat in part to the use of headphones, so any research that could reverse that process is a good sign.,8599,2011503,00.html

  3. troybolton

    I personally feel that we should go forth and test more into stem cells. After all, they can become anything. This is due to a protein called Mof. It helps the stem cell retain its ability to change into another cell. Mof plays a key role in the “epigenetics” of preventing the cell from altering. Stem cells can literally change into any other cell so I say why not go ahead and research them. It can be used to heal diseases and other ailments. It is only a matter of time before we are using this in everyday science. Good Article!

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