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Molecule critical to noise-induced hearing loss is discovered

03 Mar 2016

French researchers have discovered a molecule that, when absent, seems to be responsible for noise-induced hearing loss.

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In 2006, researchers from the Institut Pasteur's Genetics & Physiology of Hearing Unit discovered a protein named pejvakin that was seen to be responsible for early-onset sensorineural hearing loss, and subsequently discovered that patients who had a mutated version of this particular gene exhibited a wide range of hearing issues.

Wanting to further understand these findings, the team, this time involving other academics from a variety of institutions, removed the gene from mice and studied the young animals' ability to hear. All of the mice were seen to experience some form of hearing loss.

After exposing the mice to bursts of noise that would otherwise have caused no lasting harm, the auditory cells in mice lacking the gene took weeks to repair, dying entirely after repeated exposure. The auditory sensory cells in humans lacking pejvakin were then observed, and seen to be just as vulnerable as those of the mice.

The findings show that, for some individuals, hearing aids that amplify sounds will probably cause harm. However, if gene therapy focusing on pejvakin restoration is pursued in the future, the hearing of said individuals could be preserved.



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