15 March 2007

Hearing loss gene discovered

60 percent of 70-80 year-olds have hearing problems. Hearing deteriorates with age. A group of researchers has discovered the gene related to aging and loss of hearing.

Belgian and German researchers investigated the gene composition among people with normal hearing and people with hearing loss in the 40-80 year age group. They were able to identify the gene making the difference. The gene, KCNQ4, holds the key to why we lose parts of our hearing.

Dr. Ralph Holm, head researcher at RNID, stated that, “many people consider hearing loss as an inevitable part of ageing, rather than a potentially preventable condition. This research provides another important piece of the jigsaw puzzle in highlighting a gene associated with age-related hearing loss. It offers real hope that treatments will be found and we are optimistic that in the future people will no longer face the prospect of losing their hearing as they age".

About the research

The research involved 1,309 people divided into two groups. One group included volunteers aged 40-80 years from Flandern and the Netherlands. The other group included people aged 55-60 years from a small town near Antwerp.

Source: Human Mutation 27(10), 1007-1016, 2006, October, and

www.rnid.org

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