Older people may receive injections to improve their hearing & # 39; within 10 years & # 39; to improve thanks to advances in genetics
- Hearing loss drugs come closer after discovering 44 genes linked to disorder
- At the age of 65, one third of people have some hearing problems
- Hearing loss in old age is inherited to 55 percent, runs in families
Older people might one day get injections to improve their hearing, according to an expert.
Medications to combat age-related hearing loss are a step closer after scientists discovered 44 genes related to the condition.
However, it can take ten years before the treatments are available.
By the age of 65, one third of people have some hearing problems, which can lead to social isolation and is linked to both depression and dementia.
Older people might one day get injections to improve their hearing, according to an expert
Hearing loss in old age is inherited to 55 percent, runs in families, but only two of the genes behind it were previously identified.
The largest genetic study of hearing loss in old age, including more than a quarter of a million people in the UK, has now found 44.
Of these, six were previously linked only to hearing loss in babies, children and adolescents, and four were only identified in animal studies.
Many of the genes are not thought to cause problems with the way older ears work.
Instead, they are probably linked to how the brain interprets sound – the "cocktail party effect," making it difficult for older people to hear a conversation when there is background noise.
Professor Frances Williams, who co-led the study of King's College London, said: “Elderly people who get injections in their ears to switch genes in the cochlea [part of the inner ear] on or off are about ten years away, and there is the possibility that gene processing can also be used.
Hearing loss in old age is inherited to 55 percent, runs in families, but only two of the genes behind it were previously identified
"Hearing loss is increasing due to aging, but hearing aids do not work well for many. Finding a better way to treat age-related hearing loss can change lives. & # 39;
The research is based on more than 250,000 people aged 40 to 69 from the UK Biobank genetic database.
Researchers looked at the common genes of around 13,000 who had hearing aids, and about 87,000 who said they had difficulty hearing.
Their genes were compared to thousands of those without age-related hearing loss.
Dr. Ralph Holme, from the charity Action on Hearing Loss, who funded the study – published in the American Journal of Human Genetics – said: "These findings are incredibly important.
We think they will speed up the discovery of treatments to slow or even stop progressive hearing loss as we get older. & # 39;
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