Mini RNA sequences to repair hearing?
Professor Brigitte Malgrange and her team have for many years been seeking a way to repair “damaged ears”, that is to say, to enable individuals who have all but lost their hearing to recover at least part of it. Several results have been published in the last few years and the most recent - pulishced in Cell Reports (1) - show the role played by microRNAs in the production of hair cells for the first time. It is now even be possible to envisage reproducing these microRNAs in order to treat certain types of deafness…
The role of microRNAs
Professor Malgrange’s team discovered that microRNAs, small fragments of RNA, do not code for proteins, as their bigger counterparts do, due to their small size. “These mini RNA sequences were discovered around fifteen years ago and between 1500 to 2000 of them have been identified up to the present. But their role is not insignificant: these microRNAs prevent the production of certain proteins by attaching themselves to the part of the RNA involved in their synthesis. They are not specific however: that is to say that each one of them can prevent the production of between two-hundred to three-hundred proteins! And this can have implications for hearing, because it has already been established that certain microRNAs are located in the inner ear and can help us to understand the molecular mechanisms involved in the initial development of hair cells”.
(1) Aurélia Huyghe,Priscilla Van den Ackerveken,Rosalie Sacheli, Pierre-Paul Prévot, Nicolas Thelen,Justine Renauld,Marc Thiry, Laurence Delacroix, Laurent Nguyen, and Brigitte Malgrange, MicroRNA-124 Regulates Cell Specification in the Cochlea through Modulation of Sfrp4/5, Cell Reports, september 2015.