Genetic Causes for A Type of Deafness Discovered By Researchers

Oct 5, 2009 by

Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute have identified a genetic cause for progressive hearing loss. The findings were published in an advance online edition of the American Journal of Human Genetics in early September 2009. The findings may lead to the discovery of what causes age-related deafness, which in turn may lead to new treatment options.

Team leader Ulrich Mueller, a professor in the Department of Cell Biology and member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research, says “In this new research, we have linked a previously uncharacterized gene to deafness, first in mice and then in humans.” The gene, Loxhd1, is responsible for the function of hair cells in the inner ear. When this gene is disrupted through mutation, it leads to hearing loss.

This gene is the third hearing-related that the Mueller lab has discovered, and the one that the researchers are most pumped about. As Mueller says, “As you age, you lose your hearing slowly. Since this mutation can lead to progressive hearing loss, it provides us with more information on the genetic underpinnings of this condition and gives us clues as to how it might be corrected.” A therapeutic drug may be a possibility for reversing mutations of the gene that have led to progressive hearing loss.

More information is available through Medical News Today.