Hope for millions with hearing loss because scientists find 44 genes related to age-related deafness in a discovery that could lead to healing
- British researchers looked at genetic data from more than 250,000 participants
- They identified 44 genes related to hearing loss in people over 40 years of age
- At the age of 65, 40% of Britons are affected to varying degrees by hearing loss.
Scientists have identified more than 40 genes that they believe may be the key to curing deafness in old age.
British researchers discovered that 44 DNA strands were associated with hearing loss in people over 40 after analysis of genetic data from more than 250,000 participants.
They say that the breakthrough can pave the way for treatments and a better understanding of how deafness develops over time.
At the age of 65, 40 percent of Britons are affected to varying degrees by hearing loss.
The condition can lead to social isolation and disability and has been identified as a risk factor for dementia.
Scientists have identified more than 40 genes that they believe may be the key to curing deafness in old age (file image)
Although it is so common, little is known about the causes and the only treatment option available are hearing aids that are often not worn once they have been prescribed.
The research team, from King & # 39; s College London and UCL, looked at genetic data from 250,000 participants from the British Biobank between the ages of 40 and 70.
Volunteers were asked to fill in questionnaires about whether they were suffering from hearing loss or whether they were wearing hearing aids.
A third of the participants said they were struggling with some form of age-related deafness.
Researchers then analyzed their genetic data and discovered that 44 genes were linked to hearing loss.
The genes were linked by studying 9 million genetic variants and seeing if they differed from those with hearing loss compared to those without. Thirty of the genes had not previously been linked to hearing loss.
WHAT IS AGE END?
Age is the biggest cause of hearing loss.
Hearing loss that occurs as a result of aging is often referred to as age loss or presbycusis.
It is caused by the natural aging of the hearing system – but scientists don't know exactly how or why.
Most people start losing a small amount of their hearing from around 40 years old.
This hearing loss increases as you get older.
It affects around 40 percent of Britons older than 65 years.
At the age of 80, most people have significant hearing problems.
As your hearing deteriorates, high-frequency sounds, such as women's or children's voices, may become difficult to hear.
It may also be more difficult to use consonants such as & # 39; s & # 39 ;, & # 39; f & # 39; and & # 39; th & # 39; to hear.
This can make it very difficult to understand speech in background noise.
Another common cause of hearing loss is damage to the ear due to repeated exposure to loud noises over time.
This is known as noise-induced hearing loss and it occurs when the sensitive hair cells in the cochlea become damaged.
It usually happens gradually as we get older.
The research team said this will lead to new paths in biology that were previously not considered important at the hearing.
Once they have the trails, treatments can follow, according to lead author Professor Frances Williams.
Professor Williams, from the Department of Twin Research & Genetic Epidemiology at King's College London said: “We now know that very many genes are involved in hearing loss as we get older.
& # 39; This study has identified a number of genes that we already know cause deafness in children, but it has also revealed many additional new genes that point to new biological pathways in hearing. & # 39;
Dr. co-author Sally Dawson of the Ear Institute of UCL welcomed the findings and said they could lead to new therapies for millions of people around the world.
She added: “Before our research, only five genes were identified as predictors of age-related hearing loss, so our findings heralded a nine-fold increase in independent genetic markers.
& # 39; We hope our findings will contribute to further research into much needed new therapies for the millions of people worldwide who experience hearing loss as they age. & # 39;
Dr. Ralph Holme, executive director of research at Action on Hearing Loss, said: & These findings are incredibly important.
& # 39; We think they will speed up discovery of treatments to slow or even stop progressive hearing loss as we age, something that happens to at least 70 percent of 70-year-olds.
& # 39; This research has been funded by us thanks to the generosity of our supporters and we know from people with hearing loss that once again good hearing would change their lives completely.
& # 39; The identification of these genes linked to age-related hearing loss opens the door for many new research lines into treatments. & # 39;
Hearing loss is the result of sound signals that do not reach the brain. There are two main types of hearing loss, depending on where the problem lies.
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the sensitive hair cells in the inner ear or damage to the auditory nerve, which occurs naturally with age.
While conductive hearing loss occurs when sounds cannot go from your outer ear to your inner ear.
This is usually caused by a blockage such as earwax, an accumulation of fluid due to an ear infection, or by a perforated eardrum or a disorder of the auditory bones.
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