Study in mice: over 50 new hearing genes found

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Genetics

An international group of researchers has found 52 novel candidate genes for hearing loss in the mouse model. These findings show that there is an even greater number of genes involved than was previously suspected.

To determine the scale of hearing loss genes, the group carried out a hearing loss screen using auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing in a cohort of 3006 knockout mouse strains. In all, the group identified 67 candidate hearing loss genes, with most of them being novel. The results were published recently in the journal Nature Communications.

“These [findings] increase our knowledge of the many genes and molecular mechanisms required for hearing and also provide a shortlist of new genes to investigate to discover the genetic basis of many human hearing loss syndromes,” explains Professor Steve Brown, Director of the Medical Research Council (MRC) in Harwell, Oxfordshire, England and senior investigator for this study.

The team hopes that these findings will help us to better understand the genetic component of hearing loss in humans, and will provide new avenues of research to improve our knowledge of the mammalian hearing system. The researchers emphasize that, in humans, over 150 non-syndromic genetic loci have already been identified, and there are more than 400 human genetic syndromes that include hearing loss as a clinical manifestation.

Source: BioNews; Bowl MR et al. A large scale hearing loss screen reveals an extensive unexplored genetic landscape for auditory dysfunction. Nature Communications. 2017 Oct 12;8(1):886.

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