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Gene therapy has allowed several children born with inherited deafness to hear.

A study documents significantly restored hearing in five of six kids treated in China. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia announced similar improvements in an 11-year-old boy treated there. And earlier this month, Chinese researchers published a study showing much the same in two other children.

So far, the experimental therapies target only one rare condition. But scientists say similar treatments could someday help many more kids with other types of deafness caused by genes.

Globally, 34 million children have deafness or hearing loss, and genes are responsible for up to 60% of cases. Hereditary deafness is the latest condition scientists are targeting with gene therapy, which is already approved to treat illnesses such as sickle cell disease and severe hemophilia.

Researchers observed the children for about six months. They now, who previously had complete deafness, can hear a regular conversation and talk with others. They now hear at a level around 60% to 70% of normal. The therapy caused no major side effects.

Source: Time