Researchers led by King’s College London, Karolinska Institutet and Erasmus University have identified 10 new genes associated with hearing loss and the location of the affected part of the ear.
Results published today in The American Journal of Human Genetics, casts doubt on the understanding that age-related hearing impairment arises mainly from sensory hair cells. Researchers argue that the stria vascularis, part of the cochlea in the ear, is a new target for therapies to help people with hearing impairment.
Many people gradually lose some of their hearing ability as they age, and it is estimated that 2.4 billion people will have some form of hearing loss by 2050. Age-related hearing impairment is a major contributor to years of living with a disability and is also an important risk factor for dementia.
The team studied genetic analyzes previously performed at centers around the world using samples from 723,266 people from 17 studies who had been clinically diagnosed or reported hearing impairment. This meta-analysis is one of the largest analyzes performed in auditory genetics to date. The researchers identified 48 genes associated with hearing loss, including 10 new variants newly associated with hearing.
Additional analysis looking at the genes of mice indicated that age-related hearing loss is due to changes in blood vessels, which are essential for hearing. The findings provide targets for the basis of future research that could improve treatments against hearing loss.
Co-lead author Frances Williams, Professor at King’s College London, says, “Their findings identify 10 genes recently associated with hearing loss. This study points to genes we can target for screening, drug development, and even gene therapy in the future. This study provides a solid foundation for improving treatments against hearing loss.” Ultimate hearing loss.”
Co-lead author Christopher R. Siddruth, associate professor at the Karolinska Institutet, says, “It has been hypothesized since the 1970s that stria vascularis may play a role in hearing loss in humans, but molecular evidence for this has been missing until today.”
New genes identified in hearing loss, offering hope for a cure
Natalia Trpchevska et al, A genome-wide association meta-analysis identifies 48 risk variants and highlights the role of stria vascularis in hearing loss, American Journal of Human Genetics (2022). doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2022.04.010
Provided by King’s College London
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