15 Feb 2012
Scientists have identified a gene
that causes deafness in mice. This crucial advancement could lead
to an improved understanding of how deafness can be hereditary in
humans and may be used to develop new treatments.
When the specific FGF20 gene was removed
from mice the only effect, on an otherwise totally normal life
quality and span, was complete hearing loss. It was found that the
gene affected sensory hair cells by reducing the quantity and
causing altered patchy formation.
Although hereditary deafness is unusual, in
comparison to hearing loss from noise exposure and ageing,
improving the knowledge of how this gene impacts hearing ability is
a significant step forward for the treatment of all types of
At the moment, hearing aids are the primary
treatment. This discovery could be used to develop new remedies,
such as gene therapy, to address malfunctioning FGF20 genes.
With more research, there is potential in
growing new cells to replace those missing or damaged by ageing or
noise exposure and regenerate hearing ability within the next ten
to twenty years.
If you think you may have a hearing loss why not take our
online hearing check questionnaire or make an
appointment to have a free hearing test at your nearest
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