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Scientists discover deafness gene

2012-09-04

London - Scientists have found a single gene they believe could hold the key to age-related deafness.

 

Researchers found that when the FGF20 gene was removed from mice, the animals appeared perfectly healthy, but could not hear at all (file picture)

The breakthrough brings the prospect of a treatment for hearing loss, which affects half of those over 60, a step closer. When the FGF20 gene was taken out of mice, the animals appeared healthy but could not hear.

The Washington University experts, whose work was published in journal PLoS Biology, found two-thirds of the vital sound-amplifying hair cells in the outer ears of the mice had disappeared.

Damage to these hair cells is associated with hearing loss related to old age and noise exposure. Although our bodies cannot replace the cells, the study suggests the gene - also found in humans - could help scientists find a way to stimulate their growth. (hearing aids)

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