Researchers Find 38 New Genes in Mice associated with Hearing Loss

New research by the researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and King’s College London and its partners have found a number of new genes associated with hearing the loss in the mouse mutants. The new genes have discovered the metabolic pathways and regulatory processes associated with hearing.

The findings are published online in the journal PLOS Biology. This new study gives a deep understanding of the biology of deafness and furthermore gives an enhanced approach about the therapeutic targets for restoring the hearing loss.

Active hearing loss is found common in people with increasing age. This builds up a lot of daily life problems for them like difficulty in understanding the speech and increased isolation which eventually leads one to depression. Hearing loss can also be genetically acquired, however little is known about the molecular pathways prompting deafness, hindering the development of medicines.

According to nidcd, about 2 to 3 out of every 100 children in the United States are born with a detectable level of hearing the loss in one or both ears. More than 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents.

To recognize new molecules associated with deafness, the specialists adopted a genetic strategy and made 1,211 new mouse mutants. They screened each one of them using a sensitive electrophysiological test, the sound-related brainstem response, to find how great their hearing was.

The large screen of mutant mice found 38 genes associated with deafness that had not been previously linked with deafness.

The analysts further broke down human DNA data to inquire as to whether any of these 38 genes found in mice were related to human elderly hearing loss. They discovered eleven of these 38 genes were linked with hearing capacity in the UK populace. Besides one gene, SPNS2 was linked with youth deafness.

Some of these genes revealed molecular pathways that might be proved for development in the drug field.

Dr. Chris Lelliott, an author from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “This is the first time that a study of this scale has looked at levels of hearing and different types of hearing the loss in mouse mutants and shows the power of large genetic screens. Only a handful of genes have previously been linked specifically to age-related hearing loss in adults, now our study adds many more potential new genes to follow up.”

Further research on the identified genes and a wide range of parts founded in the ear suggested that hearing loss is an incredibly differed disorder and may include up to 1,000 genes.

Dr. Selina Pearson, from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “This study is giving a huge insight into the complicated biology of hearing loss and shows that because of all the different genes and pathways found, there won’t be a single ‘magic bullet’ to stop all age-related deafness. This emphasizes the value of mouse studies for identifying genes and mechanisms underlying complex processes such as hearing.”

As per the findings, it is suggested that treatments should focus more on  molecular pathways linked with the deafness rather than specific genes and mutations.

Prof Karen Steel, lead author on the paper from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and King’s College London, said: “Several of these new mouse mutant lines showed normal development of hearing followed by later deterioration, suggesting the genes involved are good candidates for human age-related hearing loss. Our next step is to find out if we can influence the molecular pathways involved to slow down or stop the progression of hearing loss.”

Adeena Tariq

Adeena's professional life has been mostly in hospital management, while studying international business in college. Of course, she now covers topics for us in health.

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