King’s College London researchers have discovered 10 new genes linked to hearing loss.
The findings, published today in American Journal of Human Genetics, cast doubt on the understanding that age-related hearing loss is primarily rooted in sensory hair cells.
The researchers argue that the blood vessels, part of the cochlea in the ear, are a new target for treatments to help people with hearing loss. ‘
Many people gradually lose some of their ability to hear as they age and an estimated 2.4 billion people will have some form of hearing loss by 2050. Age-related hearing loss is a leading cause. lead to many years of living with a disability and is also a significant risk factor for dementia.
Genetics behind hearing loss
The team studied genetic analyzes previously performed in centers around the world using samples from 723,266 people from 17 studies with clinically diagnosed or self-reported hearing loss. force. This meta-analysis is one of the largest performed in the field of auditory genetics to date. The researchers identified 48 genes associated with hearing loss, including 10 new variants associated with hearing loss.
Further analysis of the mouse genetics indicates that age-related hearing loss is caused by changes in the blood vessels essential for hearing. The results provide targets as a basis for future research that may improve therapies against hearing loss.
Co-lead author Frances Williams, professor at King’s College London, said: “Our findings identify 10 new genes that are associated with hearing loss. This study indicates genes that we can target. targeted for future screening, drug development and even gene therapy purposes. This research provides a solid foundation for ultimately improving therapies against hearing loss.”
Lead author Christopher R. Cederroth, an associate professor at the Karolinska Institutet, said: “It has been hypothesized since the 1970s that blood vessels may play some role in hearing loss in humans. , but molecular evidence for this is still lacking to this day. “