If deaf people could hear again, how many would choose to?
Deaf people could one day have their hearing restored through a ground-breaking gene therapy technique, scientists reported yesterday.
They showed that they can trigger the growth of new hair cells in the inner ear that are crucial to hearing as they pick up sound vibrations.
In tests on mice they showed that stimulating these usually irreplaceable cells to grow resulted in new cells that helped detect noise.
Researchers believe the approach could eventually be used to improve or restore hearing to the 9 million people in Britain classified as deaf or hard of hearing.
There is a deaf culture that consider deafness a difference worth celebrating rather than a disability to be “cured.” Those who are deaf should have the option of staying that way or hearing again, I think most would agree. But what if we have the ability to turn off the deafness gene so that no one ever had to be born without hearing again? What about the mentall illness gene, or the left-handed gene, or the gay gene? The Brave New World is just around the corner, so these aren’t just theoretical debates.