Glue ear, also known as otitis media, may be caused by a faulty gene, called Evi1. Glue ear is the most common cause of hearing impairment in children and affects 50 percent of infants under the age of one year in the United Kingdom.
Researchers have known for some time that genes play a role in glue ear but until now they were unable to identify the exact genetic code responsible.
By studying ”?Jumbo', a mouse with hearing loss, the scientists from the Medical Research Council Mammalian Genetics Unit in the UK were able to pinpoint the exact pathway involved in glue ear, the Evil gene.
Otitis media is an inflammation of the middle ear which often begins when bacteria and infections spread leading to accumulation of fluid behind the ear.
The study highlights the important role genetic factors play in many forms of hearing loss, and the results may help researchers figure out new ways to treat the disease.
Source: BBC News, October 2006.
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