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Gene 'key to curing types of deafness' HEALTH.

Byline: LACHLAN MACKINNON

AGE-related hearing loss could be prevented thanks to research into a gene which "causes deafness".

Scientists discovered that when the FGF20 gene was absent in mice, the animals appeared healthy but had no hearing.

In humans, the gene, found in the inner ear, has already been linked to inherited deafness.

Humans hear via outer and inner hair cells in the inner ear. Disabling the gene caused a loss of outer cells, but inner cell numbers were normal.

Scientists say they can now use the FGF20 gene profile to halt the loss of outer hair cells.

Dr Sung-Ho Huh, from Washington University in St Louis, whose study appeared in the online Library of Science Biology, said: "This is important because most age-related hearing loss is due to the loss of outer hair cells."

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BREAKTHROUGH Hearing
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 4, 2012
Words:139
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