October 18, 2010:
A gene identified as the reason for age-related hearing loss
Researchers from California have connected the gene Loxhd1 with age-related hearing loss. The discovery can perhaps help researchers develop new forms of treatment.
A team of researchers from The Scripps Research Institute in California have found a new genetic reason for age-related hearing loss. Researchers have found that the gene Loxhdl is necessary for maintaining proper functioning hair cells in the inner ear. Mutations in Loxhd1 lead to degradation of hair cells and a disruption of the process that enables hearing.
Researchers created a new mouse line with hearing impairment and cloned Loxhd1, the gene responsible, which had not previously been connected with hearing loss. When the mice inherited two copies of the mutated gene, they were profoundly hard of hearing shortly after birth.
To find out if there was a similar gene in humans, which also causes hearing loss, the researchers searched a DNA database with samples from hearing impaired families. The team found that mutations in the Loxhd1 gene were present in some of these families with hearing loss.
On the trail of a new treatment
“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,” said team leader Ulrich Mueller, a professor in the Department of Cell Biology and member of the Skaggs Institute at Scripps Research.
Mueller’s lab is currently investigating the possibility that a therapeutic drug could be effective in reversing the molecular problems that result from the defective gene.
Age-related hearing loss