An international group of researchers has identified the gene that acts as a key regulator for special cells needed in hearing, Newswise reports.
An international group of researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), and the MRC Harwell Institute in the UK discovered the gene, which will help researchers better understand the unique type of cell that is needed for hearing and potentially develop treatments for common age-related hearing loss.
“Outer hair cells are the first inner ear cells lost as we age. Age-related hearing loss happens to everyone. Even a 30-year-old has lost some of the outer hair cells that sense higher pitch sounds. Simply exposure to sound, especially loud ones, eventually causes damage to these cells,” said Dr. Ronna Hertzano, Associate Professor in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, Anatomy and Neurobiology at UMSOM. Her research will be published in the journal Nature.
The inner ear has two kinds of sensory hair cells needed for hearing. The inner hair cells convert sounds to neural signals that travel to the brain; outer hair cells function by amplifying and tuning sounds. Loss of outer hair cells is the major cause of age-related hearing loss.