Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Login
Advanced Search

Search for
BioNews

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook


 


 

Over 50 new hearing genes found

16 October 2017

By Dr Greg Ball

Appeared in BioNews 922

Researchers have discovered 52 new genes essential for hearing in mice.

The discovery may help scientists understand the genetic component of hearing loss in humans, as well as providing new avenues of research for understanding the mammalian hearing system.

Importantly, the large number of hearing loss genes identified in this study demonstrates that there are many more genes involved in deafness in mouse and human genomes than we had previously realised,' said Professor Steve Brown, director of the Medical Research Council (MRC) in Harwell and senior investigator for this study.

The MRC Harwell forms part of the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium (IMPC). The IMPC aims to identify the function of each gene in the mouse genome by generating 'knockout' mice, in which a single gene is inactivated and the impact on the mouse's health is assessed.

Over 3000 strains of knockout mice were screened and, of the 67 strains found to have impaired hearing, 52 arose from the inactivation of genes not previously associated with hearing.

'These 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,' said Professor Brown.

To assess hearing in mice, the scientists used the auditory brainstem response (ABR) test. This test uses electrodes positioned on the head to measure neural activity in response to sound, and can also be used to assess hearing in humans. Five different sound frequencies were tested, with the volume at which a neural signal is detected defining the hearing threshold at a particular frequency. The test enabled the scientists to identify mild or severe hearing impairments, as well as conditions which affected reduced hearing at only high or low frequencies.

The IMPC intends to produce a knockout mouse strain for each of the roughly 20,000 genes in the mouse genome. Following this latest study, it is expected that at least 450 genes will play a role in hearing.

Professor Brown also highlighted some of the more immediate clinical implications of the work. 'Testing these genes in people with hearing loss may help to improve diagnosis and counselling of patients,' he said.

The study was published in Nature Communications.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Nature Communications | 12 October 2017
 
The New Indian Express | 12 October 2017
 
Science Daily | 12 October 2017
 
Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News | 12 October 2017
 

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

27 February 2017 - by Caroline Casey 
Scientists have developed a way of growing thousands of human hair cells – sensors in the inner ear that detect sound – from stem cells...
13 February 2017 - by Jamie Rickman 
An improved gene-therapy technique using a synthetic virus has restored the hearing of deaf mice up to the level of a whisper...
06 February 2017 - by Caroline Casey 
A novel gene therapy technique has partially restored hearing and balance in deaf mice...
13 July 2015 - by Dr Greg Ball 
A technique that delivers genes into the inner ears of mice has been used to restore hearing, marking the first time that gene therapy has been successfully used to treat deafness...

HAVE YOUR SAY
Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


- click here to enquire about using this story.

Published by the Progress Educational Trust

CROSSING FRONTIERS

Public Conference
London
8 December 2017

Speakers include

Professor Azim Surani

Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge

Sally Cheshire

Professor Guido Pennings

Katherine Littler

Professor Allan Pacey

Dr Sue Avery

Professor Richard Anderson

Dr Elizabeth Garner

Dr Andy Greenfield

Dr Anna Smajdor

Dr Henry Malter

Vivienne Parry

Dr Helen O'Neill

Dr César Palacios-González

Philippa Taylor

Fiona Fox

Sarah Norcross

Sandy Starr


BOOK HERE

Good Fundraising Code

Become a Friend of PET HERE and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation