Gene responsible for common hearing loss identified for first time

Jun 17, 2007

A gene responsible for the single most common cause of hearing loss among white adults, otosclerosis, has been identified for the first time, a scientist told the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics in Nice, France. Ms Melissa Thys, from the Department of Medical Genetics, University of Antwerp, Belgium, said that this finding may be a step towards new treatments for otosclerosis, which affects approximately 1 in 250 people.

Otosclerosis is a multifactorial disease, caused by an interaction of genetic and environmental factors. The outcome is a progressive hearing loss as the growing bone in the middle ear interrupts the sound waves passing to the inner ear. While the causative factors remain unknown, now one of the genetic components has been identified, Ms Thys told the conference.

“The gene in which the variant is located points to a pathway that contributes to the disease. This may be a lead for better forms of treatment in the future; currently the best option is an operation. However, there is often an additional component of hearing loss which can’t be restored by surgery. As the gene involved is a growth factor, and the disease manifests itself by the abnormal growth of bone in the middle ear, it may have a large potential for therapy”, she said. Improved understanding may also lead to prevention strategies.

Ms Thys and her team decided to study a gene called TGBF1 which they already knew had non-genetic indications of involvement in otosclerosis: it plays a role during embryonic development of the ear and is expressed in otosclerotic bone. They used SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) analysis, or looking at DNA sequence variations occurring in a single nucleotide, A, T, C or G, to study a large patient and control population from Belgium and The Netherlands. They found significant results for an amino acid changing SNP inTGBF1, and that this remained significant after correcting for multiple testing. Analysis of a large French group showed the same association.

“Combining the data from both groups with a common odds ratio gave a very significant result, from which we were able to conclude that we were the first to identify a gene that influences the susceptibility for otosclerosis”, said Ms Thys. “And, as further evidence, we were also able to show that a more active variant of this gene is protective against the disease.”

Source: European Society of Human Genetics

Explore further: Clues to genetics of congenital heart defects emerge from Down syndrome study

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scientists identify genetic cause for type of deafness

Sep 03, 2009

A team led by scientists from The Scripps Research Institute has discovered a genetic cause of progressive hearing loss. The findings will help scientists better understand the nature of age-related decline in hearing and ...

The secret of short stems

Nov 12, 2013

The normal height to which plants grow is a critical trait. In the wild Arabidopsis thaliana uses the same genetic changes in the biosynthesis of the growth factor gibberellin to cut its size in half as fo ...

Recommended for you

Right environment could improve stem cell therapies

Oct 23, 2014

Stem cell therapies are being hailed as a potential cure for many major health conditions, but there is much still to learn about the highly complex environments needed to optimise these therapies, according to researchers ...

User comments : 0