Kusch Group

Functional Auditory Genomics

We are interested in gene therapy of the inner ear. Therefore, we use adenovirus associated virus (AAV)-mediated transduction of sensory and neuronal cells of the cochlea. These gene ferries are non-pathogenic viral particles loaded with a gene-therapeutic DNA instead of viral DNA. Together with our colleagues within and outside the Institute for Auditory Neuroscience we design, optimize and produce AAVs for research applications and pave the path towards clinical translation.

Our main questions are:

  • Which AAV capsid is optimal for the cell type, species and application method planned?
  • What promotor is suitable to drive transgene expression?
  • How can we best pack large coding sequences into AAVs?
  • To target these questions, we combine molecular biology, protein biochemistry, immunohistology and optogenetics.

    The development of an optical cochlea implant is an interdisciplinary effort involving multiple groups. To target spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs) of the inner ear for enabling them to respond to light, we use optimized AAV-capsids and cell-specific promotors to express desired proteins efficiently in SGNs. We analyze various combinations with different channel-rhodopsins in rodent animal models and collaborate with the Jeschke group for late preclinical tests in non-human primates.

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