Researchers of the University Medical Centre Göttingen in Germany are busy developing an optogenetic cochlear implant with 100 channels by making use of micro-LEDs as light source. First, by means of gene therapy the auditory cells are made sensitive to light so they can be activated by light. An optogenetic cochlear implant stimulates the auditory nerve not with electrical stimuli but with light. This technique should offer a much richer and more detailed sound quality than the current electrical stimulation.
The researchers have demonstrated by now that the approach is successful with mice with a 1-channel optogenetic cochlear implant. Researcher from Copenhagen demonstrated early July 2016 that they were able to recover the hearing of deaf rats with a 10-channel version of the optogenetic cochlear implant.