A new study was recently published in The American Journal of Human Genetics which has identified 44 genes that are linked to age-related hearing loss. This is helping to give a clearer picture of how hearing loss develops and potential treatments for it.
In the study, researchers from King's College London and UCL looked at genes from over 250,000 participants aged 40-69 years to see which genes were associated with people who had reported having, or not having, hearing problems on the questionnaire. 44 genes were identified to be linked with hearing loss.
By the age of 65, one-third of people are affected by some degree of hearing loss. This can lead to social isolation and various disabling conditions and has been identified as a risk factor for dementia. The findings of this new study may allow researchers to determine how hearing loss develops as we age and may identify potential targets for new therapies and treatments.
Co-lead author of the study Professor Frances Williams said, "We now know that very many genes are involved in the loss of hearing as we age. This study has identified a few genes that we already know cause deafness in children, but it has also revealed lots of additional novel genes [that] point to new biological pathways in hearing."
The next steps in this research are to understand how each identified gene influences the auditory pathway in order to provide opportunities to develop new treatments.