The first full genome study for age-related hearing impairment has had important results. A team of American and Belgian researchers believe they have identified a gene mutation which may increase the risk of age-related hearing loss, presbyacusis.
The gene, GRM7, was found to be the likely cause of increased sensitivity to glutamate, a transmitter of nerve impulses, which may result in damaged inner ear nerve cells.
The study was the largest of its kind to date. The researchers studied genetic materials gathered in eight European countries. They are currently working on a laboratory model to test pharmaceuticals for possible treatment of presbycusis.
"Finding the genetic causes of age-related hearing loss could lead to treatments that would bring relief to millions of people worldwide," said Matthew Huentelman, a member of the research team in a press release from the Transatlantic Genomics Research Institute in Arizona, USA.